Philadephia Orchestra appoints an ideas person

But an acronym, not an intellectual.

The Philadelphia Orchestra has appointed Doris Parent vice president of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access strategies (IDEAS) and strategic partnerships. In its commitment to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution dedicated to the art form of orchestral music.


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  • Fairly certain she checked two important boxes on her application.
    Other than that, I wish her well: the future of western art music is now in the hands of a generation being taught to hate any history not developed by BIPOC.

  • Classical music in the 21st Century is, by its very nature, elitist. It’s never going to be “inclusive and diverse.” It’s an unrealistic goal. The one thing you never hear about is “diversity” of donors. How about requiring more black and Latino donors? 99% of the contributors to classical orgs in the US are white. Get more minority donors you get more diversity onstage and in the programming. Maybe.

    • And yet it’s super important not to hire anyone who may be able to get more diverse donors interested… apparently.


  • I hear one John Chunch was in contention for this position, but when they discovered his record of posts on here he was eliminated from consideration.

    • Shame on you, Dennis Pastrami, if that is indeed your real name. One can hardly deny that your post history is full of baloney.

      • Gentlemen, gentlemen! Can’t we all just get along, maybe discuss this over lunch? I recommend that you order the Salome on wry. Very tasty!

    • One has to be careful with what one posts here. A year ago I was serenaded at 9 PM by the brass band of the village because of a SD comment, and had to listen for some 20 minutes in the cold on the balcony, staring into the mouths of tubas and trombones that were cracking quite some wrong notes.

    • You find me a living black female composer whose music is worthy to be played in place of Beethoven or Brahms and I’ll go.

      • Not in place of, but next to certainly. Florence Price comes to mind. So does the contemporary composer Jessy Montgomery. Both have written works that deserve to be performed in PO concerts.

        • Florence Price… let me see.., Florence.. You mean that half talented church organist who made a couple bad copies of others work at her kitchen table, called it a “Symphony”? Wokeness loves mediocrity.

      • But you are a White Male, of course you would listen to Dead White Males, you are on the classical-music-audience extinction list, you are irrelevant, therefore I wasn’t talking to you, we need less of you in the audience, I mean eventually we’ll have less of you anyway as the years go by, we need more of Black Females in the audience, THEY would want to listen to Living Black Female composers, and THEY are not sure to come as the years go by.

        • The problem is that classical music just isn’t popular with ANY race or gender like it was in past generations; at least to a much greater extent than it is now. The notion that playing music by a diverse group of living composers will fill concert halls now or in the future is a fantasy. Young people want their instant gratification. They don’t want to invest time and attention in a long, complex work. That won’t change if you play less Beethoven and more name-the-living-Black-female-composer.

          Aside from that, I guess it’s too much to ask that Black females choose the music they listen to based on its quality (in accordance with their taste) without regard to the race and gender of the composers. I don’t see White hip-hop concert-goers holding out for more White performers.

      • Once a song cycle of mine could only be performed, in Germany, after I had changed gender in the program booklet because it was a program with female composers. The review claimed it was the best item that night, and that it showed that women could really compose very well if given the chance. (I’m not making this up.)

      • How about you find any composer, living or dead, of any race or gender, whose music is worthy to be placed “in place of Beethoven or Brahms.”

        I’ll take my answer off the air.

        But in the meantime, maybe there are composers whose work is worthy to be played on the same concert with a great master. You know, the usual trick of putting the modern piece first and getting it out of the way, before following it with whatever popular concerto that week’s soloist is touring with and Beethoven’s 5th?

        OK, maybe there’s nothing out there worthy of sharing a stage with Beethoven or Brahms. But since those modern pieces are so famously shitty and stupid*, and get performed anyway, it could hardly hurt to throw in a few by living Black female composers.

        *(I’m referring to opinions expressed elsewhere on this blog, not accusing you of saying something you didn’t say.)

        • Agreed.

          By the way, there are enough composers nowadays whose pieces can stand in a classics program without blushing. The problem is that programmers don’t know, and don’t want to know, and prefer to look at the modern music establishment which is easier – then they don’t have to make any artistic judgment.

          Again I would like to refer, as an example, to a master piece, still undervalued since it is not ‘easy listening music’:

      • If every museum you went to, if every art gallery you went to, if every art biennial you went to, the only thing they showed you was the reproduction of the Mona Lisa, sooner or later you’d stop going to museums, galleries, biennials.

        The overwhelming majority of humanity in the last 200 years does not listen to Beethoven, and even less, Brahms. Period. Prove me wrong. It’s time to move on.

        • With all due respect, this is a totally crazy and absurd comment.

          Art galleries, museums and art biennales don’t show reproductions of the Mona Lisa. It hangs in the Louvre and draws crowds from all voer the world.

          High art is not for the masses, it never was, but it is important for a civilisation. If ‘moving on’ means rejecting the achievements of humanity of the past, that would be cultural suicide. It is this kind of absurdist mind set, representing the ignorance of the masses, which tries to stamp out the best humanity has been able to produce: populism is one of the worst enemies of culture, of civilisation, of art, of classical music.

  • I don’t see how she can look herself in the mirror in the morning and not think “they value me strictly for something over which I have no control.” I guess it’s just “take the money and run.”

    • …and not at all for her demonstrated experience in development (otherwise known as donor cultivation and fundraising) for the Philadelphia Orchestra. (See Philly Guy’s comment, below)

  • Very cool that any time a woman, or person of colour achieves anything this readership immediately loses their collective minds, very cool.

    • Hiring someone who checks the requisite gender and racial “boxes” can perhaps arouse suspicion about whether they’re truly the best qualified for the job or their employment just “woke window-dressing.” Obviously, this is not always the case, but we should be concerned that true merit is more-and-more being passed over in effort score misguided “politically correct points.”

  • So get past all of the nonsensical “terms” and what will the woman actually do? Be rid of blind auditions? Have the Orchestra play more W. Grant Still? Do more outreach to to primary schools? A fools errand and a waste of donor’s money. If African American kids are not encouraged at a young age they will not go to Curtis! And what to do about all of those Asian string players and their great Principal Bassoonist Dan Mastukawa I guess they don’t count toward diversity

    • Actually, those all sound like very positive developments. I’d be all for getting rid of blind auditions (which clearly don’t work when it comes to increasing minority participation), doing outreach (what’s not to like?), and especially, playing more of Still’s music (woefully under-appreciated).

      Classical music institutions cannot go on as a white, wealthy, elitist bastions if they hope to survive in an increasingly multicultural world. Bravo to Philly for taking a necessary step.

      • Auditions are surely meant to be to engage the best available musician, not to socially engineer the orchestra make-up.

        I haven’t a doubt that a minority player can ace an audition as well as a white one. “IDEAS” ministers should just be making damned sure that the doors to the audition are open to all — that’s the hurdle too many (backs, women, sometimes gay people) face in some circumstances to this day.

  • It’s precisely these sort of comments that show the ignorance and prejudice perpetuated in and around classical music communities.
    In order to have black female composers ‘equal’ to Beethoven we need first to create equal opportunities. That is far from reality at the moment. Not to mention that most black musicians have been pretty much ignored or erased throughout music history. And I am sure some of you would argue that it was because of their lack of quality; but that is actually far from the truth, with some of those black musicians of the past highly esteemed and respected in their time by many of their illustrious white colleagues. And at the same time we play pieces that we know are sometimes far inferior, but are “in the repertoire”… I am a professional musician and I have seen and witnessed prejudice, bias and sometimes yes, racial discrimination, still abundant in the ‘industry’. I know of occasions when black musicians were treated ‘differently’, from other colleagues.

    On the other hand all cultural organizations feel a truly existential pressure these days to remain relevant in a changing society. None of them will be around in the future if they don’t adapt to an evolving society both in its composition, attitudes and mentality.

    Of course, though, it was expected that any such article would bring out bigoted comments, we are used to that…

  • Wow, the racism on this website is just getting more blatant by week! I think many of the posts here make the case for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s initiative better than almost anything else.

    And, behold, once again all these right wing snowflakes so offended by [shock, horror] ‘diversity’!

    • If ‘diversity’ becomes a standard measure to judge players and programs, that means a measurement becomes influential that has nothing to do with music. To battle racism, it is better to focus upon the educational system, which is at the beginning of the trajectory of bigotry. At an orchestra, you are at the end of the trajectory and merely create more problems than are solvable.

  • They can hardly afford this hire, and one that is opposed to classical music as an art. Few Black people attend any PO concerts, and this won’t make a difference.

  • Plenty of temper in the comment section today. I fail to see what is wrong with hiring someone whose job description is basically to get new audiences excited about wonderful music.

  • Need I point out to those who accuse classical music of being “white supremacist” that the (vast) majority of string players in the NYPhil are not white but POC.

    Oh, Asians don’t count as POC? What are they? Honorary caucasians?

    I fear that the classical music biz is about to go down the path to idiocy. If that turns out to be the case, count me, my ticket purchases, and my donations, out.

  • The vast majority of people commenting here should be ashamed of yourselves. If you took FIVE MINUTES on LinkedIn you’d see that Doris has worked her way up the orchestra’s hierarchy over almost a decade. She came on when the orchestra was *literally* bankrupt and has raised millions of dollars to keep its musicians playing. She’s the incoming president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which means that if she wanted to “take the money and run” as one of you put it, she could easily do so in a lucrative hospital or university fundraising department. She’s knowledgeable about and loves classical music and this position gives her an opportunity to try to build meaningful relationships between the orchestra and Philadelphia’s extremely diverse community. So I guess you could say that the “two boxes she checks” are dedication and competence. I congratulate Doris and the Philadelphia Orchestra and wish them both great success.

  • I’ve always enjoyed this forum. But as a black man who has loved classical music from my youth, my naive notions of ever being welcome in the classical music community have been exposed for the nonsense they are. And this not by your criticism of the newly created role in Philadelphia, but by the unrestrained voices of utter disdain for the idea that people of color might aspire to be part of the classical music community. And as an aside, people of color are not The Masses as if by birthright. You may one day be surprised to find some who have found western art forms to be intellectually stimulating and emotionally powerful. I’m embarassed to discover how foolish I’ve been.

    • I’ve yet to encounter a black classical musician who wasn’t welcomed with open arms by ther performing community. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, but I never witnessed it in my 15 years of high-level study and professional performance. I’m thinking of colleagues at the Tanglewood Music Center, at New England Conservatory, and at the ‘Yard. Not a single case of an African-American musician being shunned, held at arm’s length, what-have-you. Always welcomed. Always treated like any other hard-practicing colleague.

  • Until Philadelphia gets the homeless, the beggars, and the generally insane folks off the streets, no decent person wants to walk over puke, urine, and feces to get to a Philadelphia Orchestra concert.

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