MSM launches ‘an Influential Group of  Black Artists, Activists, Educators, and Administrators’

MSM launches ‘an Influential Group of Black Artists, Activists, Educators, and Administrators’


norman lebrecht

October 29, 2020

Press release:

Manhattan School of Music (MSM) today unveiled an inaugural roster of Artist Scholars, an accomplished and influential list of Black performers, educators, activists, directors, choreographers, and administrators that includes Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis, acclaimed classical pianist Lara Downes (pictured), chamber musicians, Imani Winds, and novelist Tayari Jones.


Full list:

Gary Bartz: legendary saxophonist
LaSaundra Booth: Founder, Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra, SphinxLEAD
Terri Lyne Carrington, drummer; composer; producer; 2020 NEA Jazz Master; Founder and Artistic Director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice
Katie Brown and Dalanie Harris: Hosts, The Classically Black Podcast
Anthony Davis: Pulitzer Prize-winning composer (The Central Park Five, Amistad, X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X)
Bill Doggett: guest lecturer, historian
Lara Downes: pianist, activist
Tia Fuller: saxophonist; composer; band leader
Jarvis Antonio Green: actor; director; Producer, JAG Productions
Imani Winds: Grammy-nominated wind quintet (Mark Dover [MM ’12], Monica Ellis [PS ’98], Brandon Patrick George [MM ’10], Jeff Scott (BM ’90), Toyin Spellman Diaz [MM ’97, PS ’98])
Tayari Jones: author; winner, 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction for An American Marriage
Tesia Kwarteng (MM ’13): mezzo-soprano
Alex Laing (MM ’98): Principal Clarinet, Phoenix Symphony; educator
M Lamar: composer, performer
Erich McMillan-McCall: actor; producer; and advocate
Charles Chip McNeal: Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community, San Francisco Opera
Garrett McQueen: bassoonist; TRILLOQUY podcast
Malcolm J. Merriweather (DMA ’15): conductor, baritone
Jasmine Muhammad (MM ’12): soprano
Jannina Norpoth (BM ’03): violinist, PUBLIQuartet; SphinxLEAD
Kristal Pacific: Director of Social Equity and Grantmaking, Opera America; SphinxLEAD
Ken Roberson: choreographer
Britton Smith: actor; Artistic Director, The Broadway Advocacy Coalition
Adina Williams: Director of Community Engagement and Education, Camille A. Brown



  • Bone says:

    So there is actually a racial requirement for being part of this group? Seems kinda…racist?
    Getting more BIPOC involved in art music seems like a good investment, though. Hope this works out well.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    And what exactly will be their function at the school? Or is it just “We can compile a list”?

  • Elinor says:

    Typical of what the democrats want to do. Divide people into race

    • Bruce says:

      So much better to just keep insisting everything is fine.


      This is the kind of thinking that views Martin Luther King Jr. as a “troublemaker” who wanted to destroy society.

  • IP says:

    So what are they going to do, once launched?

  • DT says:

    Is Lara Downes deciding that she’s black today? Seems to be a Monday/Wednesday/Friday thing.

  • Gerald Martin says:

    “Gender Justice”?

  • John Borstlap says:

    Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice
    Pulitzer Prize-winning composer (The Central Park Five, Amistad, X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X)
    saxophonist; composer; band leader
    Women’s Prize for Fiction for An American Marriage
    Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community, San Francisco Opera
    Director of Social Equity and Grantmaking, Opera America
    The Broadway Advocacy Coalition

    What has all of this to do with classical music? Students will be fed with the idea that music is not an intrinsic value in itself but merely a vehicle for political action. This is comparable with how music was socially-shaped in the Soviet Union. Also it has traits of the Chinese ‘cultural revolution’ which created terrible havoc.

    The profound misunderstanding is that the ‘whiteness’ of classical music has to be corrected by compensatory ethnic profiling. But this ‘whiteness’ is the result of other processes in society which have nothing to do with classical music. It’s an educational problem, and should be addressed in the educational system, at the beginning of the trajectory of awareness, and not at some end, like the classical music world. It is entirely self-destructive and will lower standards, create falsifications and distortions, and eventually invite the most primitive amateurism – all in the name of social justice. ‘Yes, it’s awful and stupid, but at least it is fair.’

    • Joe Blow says:

      You do realize that MSM is not a 19th century institution and offers music education and degrees in other areas than classical music?

      • John Borstlap says:

        There is a difference between classical music as a genre and entertainment music, and where they are put on the same level, both genres are put in the wrong context and thus, distorted in their meaning. Has nothing to do with 19C notions of music.

    • Martin Jakowski says:

      It’s liberals who hate America and white people doing the same thing they do everywhere.

      They SEGREGATE blacks from whites just as they did using the KKK which the Democrats created.

      The left only has racism to peddle, nothing positive.

  • yujafan says:

    Nothing gets people to take you seriously as getting a woman lying atop a piano… (sigh)

  • Michael James says:

    How about a list of Jewish artist scholars? There are some precedents for such a thing . . .

    • M. Weitz says:

      No. Blacks replaced Jews as being socially sacrosanct under Obama’s preferred and dismissive policies including his constant anti-police stance.

      Under Democrats today, we aren’t welcome.

      Jews have been responding by voting Trump especially in NYC like I just did along with my neighbors.

  • anon says:

    Whilst it is interesting to learn about some of the individuals from a particular demographic, we must be careful to avoid the fallacy of assuming that *only* people from a given demographic are qualified to mentor or act as role-models for others in the same demographic.

    I am a white (albeit from an invisible and inaudible ethnic minority) man who teaches many pupils who are visibly from an ethnic minority, and feel confident that I am playing a positive role as a mentor and role-model, despite my not being from their ethnicity. In fact, some of these pupils (or their parents) have told me, completely spontaneously, that I am the best teacher they have ever had (and, since my hourly rate is quite high, most of my pupils come to me after having studied for some time with other teachers).

    I am therefore very offended by the implication advanced by some that, as a white person, I am somehow unqualified to serve as a mentor/role-model for people with other skin colours. So, let us ensure that these sort of lists are not weaponised by the fanatics who demand divisive policies such as so-called “positive discrimination”.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Well, I presume a Black list is better than a black list.

  • papageno says:

    PM me if you want to know how to renounce American citizenship.

    • Frank Hubert says:

      Sure hope the liberal, college-educated young women take you up on that offer after November 3!

      They can get all the “diversity” they crave in Saudi Arabia. Can’t wait to see how CNN covers their struggles over there compared with the backwards, racist USA as you people see it papageno.

      Talk about chopping off the slack!! Hahahahhaaaa!!!!!!

  • Dr. Michael Kaykov says:

    Very strange to see so many negative comments…