Juilliard is accused of fostering racial hysteria

Juilliard is accused of fostering racial hysteria

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norman lebrecht

May 24, 2021

Heather Mac Donald, a fellow of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, has published an in-depth study of how ‘Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EDIB) issues’ have become the main agenda issue at the self-regarding New York conservatoire.

She makes some strong points:

Damian Woetzel (pictured), former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, became Juilliard’s president in July 2018 and proceeded to put increasing bureaucratic clout behind the concept that Juilliard has a racism problem. The school added diversity curricula and audition requirements. It beefed up its system for reporting bias incidents. It mandated diversity workshops for faculty and students.

Those efforts picked up steam after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Within a week, Woetzel and the EDIB taskforce had sent out three schoolwide emails on the “work” Juilliard still needed to do to become an “anti-racist community.” The school sponsored a blacks-only “healing” space. It recommended that students and faculty read the books of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, and Michelle Alexander to understand systemic racism.

On June 11, 2020, Juilliard’s provost, Ara Guzelimian, circulated a student petition. Lending an administration email account to a student communiqué violated school protocol, but the Juilliard Student Congress’s “Call to Action” was important enough to justify the exception, wrote Guzelimian in his cover letter.

The Call to Action charged Juilliard with “systemic injustice.”

And this:

A leader in the arts world, told of Juilliard’s travails, observes: “This is a crucial time to stand up and call out what is an overly emotional and irrational attack on the best of what humanity has to offer.”

He would not allow me to reveal his name or affiliation.

Read on here.

Comments

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    The spread of Critical Theory and diversity indoctrination across much of what we are told are the citadels of cultural and academic excellence continues to undermine the very foundations of what these institutions are supposed to represent . The time is not far away when all that will be left in their lives, all that matters to them, will be squabbling groups numbering mere handfuls arguing about which amongst them is the most discriminated against. Each checking the privilege of the others on the intersectionality byway to inevitable Cultural oblivion.

    • John Borstlap says:

      In the end, the minority most strongly discriminated against, will be the talented.

      • Anthony Sayer says:

        That’s part of the idea of these Fisher-Price Marxists.

      • Save the MET says:

        Huh? If you suck at that level and they bring you in due to racial diversity, no amount of teaching will make you a talented musician. The Professors will eventually get tired of having to teach substandard students and move to other conservatories who don’t practice that style of admissions and then Juilliard becomes lost in a vacuum.

        • Y says:

          “…move to other conservatories who don’t practice that style of admissions…”

          What other conservatories would those be? Because as far as I can tell, they’re all infected with the same leftwing extremism. Maybe a few holdouts remain, but they are few and far between, and at the rate that the Gleichsaltung is progressing, they won’t be holdouts for long.

          • O. Bergine says:

            Sadly, MSM was already infected, unless the infection has passed. That leaves Mannes perhaps untouched. The only problem for teachers is, Juilliard pays the best.

          • Sam C says:

            Not all. I have students who look around and there are schools with lesser degrees of this insanity/stupidity and still fine faculty. My students go to those places.

        • Donna Pasquale says:

          Hmm there are a number of assumptions in your post that are very unpleasant.

      • Hayne says:

        Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

    • E Rand says:

      precisely and devastatingly correct. Leftism destroys everything it touches, and rotting institutions are perfect fruit.

    • Donna Pasquale says:

      Meanwhile racism continues.

  • Donna Pasquale says:

    To quote from Heather MacDonald’s opening line.
    “Turn on CNN or open the New York Times, and you may encounter someone explaining how exhausting it is to be a black person.”
    Well that tells you a lot about the author and her world view. What follows is frankly a mess. There is no cogent argument and evidence is really a version of yes but they did this.

    I understand the attraction of this kind of trash as click bait but it detracts from some serious consideration of serious issues.

    • christopher storey says:

      You are correct , Donna Pasquale : it tells me that Heather MacDonald has a very realistic and sensible view about the hysteria which seems to be overtaking the world

      • Pete Meninsky says:

        MacDonald’s reporting is pretty much on point and this is happening, one way or the other at just about every institution of higher education and most, pK-12 as well. Anything can be called racist and harm doesn’t have to have any evidence except for someone to feel they have been harmed. Anyone and anything can be accused at any time and administrators are fearful for their careers. Not to mention some are using the tools of accusation for their own personal benefit (ah, entrepreneurship…). Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good things going on here, many things that include change for the better, but the crazy stuff has to stop. Juilliard should stop being “eurocentric?” One can go to other institutions that study and teach other forms of music, if that’s what they want. Go to Berklee. Go to the Clive Davis Institute at Tisch/NYU. Juilliard is predominantly about European classical music and yes, underrepresented BIPOC composers and artists can and will become increasing represented, but really, should Juilliard drop western classical music and switch to something else? I do think Juilliard’s decision to have a president, provost, and dean of music who are all white, is a problem they could have avoided.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Of course!! CNN and the NYT are the bibles of Woke. Shallow doesn’t even cut it. Listen to what Prof. Glen Lowry says on his more recent blogcasts: he and John McWhorter are fed up with it!!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSrDiBMHEtw&t=543s

  • Music fan says:

    The rant is published in City Journal, which is funded by a right-wing think tank, the disingenuously named Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Ms. Mac Donald has been on record as accusing Barack Obama as “attacking the very foundation of civilization”, being in favor of unregulated “stop and frisk”, and defended torture under the Bush administration.

    So one can take this with many grains of salt.

    • kaa12840 says:

      Thank you music fan for pointing out what non-new yorkers may not know about the Manhattan Institute. That anyone can take their comments seriously in this polarized world is depressing.

      • Marfisa says:

        The world is polarized because nowadays nothing that a conservative says is taken seriously by anybody on the left, and vice-versa. Thinking one side is always wrong and the other side is never wrong is no alternative to thinking for yourself. And cherry-picking apparently outrageous statements out of context, as Music fan does, is no way to counter seriously argued positions.

    • Paul Brown says:

      You’ve missed perhaps the most intriguing part of all of this: a key funder and very important person at the Manhattan Institute is Bruce Kovner, the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Juilliard School. Kovner is also a big time figure at the American Enterprise Institute. And, it would be hard to believe that Kovner and MacDonald aren’t friendly, or at least run in the same circles.

      • Save the MET says:

        Kovner may be king of his hedge fund, but his wife rules the roost outside of his home. Based upon whaty I know about her, he does not have time for AEI. She barely tolerates Juilliard and made him divest himself of his antique manuscript collection.

      • Hayne says:

        So by inference, everything she wrote is wrong? I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

      • Barry says:

        You may be right, but the fact remains that MacDonald has unquestionably been out front among those willing to speak out about what excessive wokeness has been doing to various institutions publicly for a relatively long time. She also has a special interest in classical music (as I mentioned yesterday, she writes opera reviews on occasion).

        This is a topic she was bound to write about, connection to Kovner or not.

    • Barry says:

      No. One can not. Ms. MacDonald is the foremost expert in the country on the intersection of race, police and crime. She states facts that we all know are facts, but when most people won’t say publicly at this point for fear of repercussions.

      And people who put out the kind of judgmental nonsense that you wrote are the reason many are afraid to speak the truth at this point in our history.

      She also happens to occasionally moonlight as an opera critic in NYC.

      • Donna Pasquale says:

        The foremost expert? Really? You have a very low bar. Indeed no bar at all. I look forward to the evidence to support this claim.

        • Barry says:

          Her educational qualifications would pass any bar (Ivy League and either Oxford or Cambridge; I forget which). She has also been one of the only people speaking out publicly about the issue from a perspective other than the dominant narrative put forward by the Left for quite some time. Feel free to read her many articles on the subject or view one of her lectures, interviews or debates on Youtube.

          • Donna Pasquale says:

            I did . They are terrible. Clearly Ivy League institutions are not what they were. The article cited in the original post has no form or structure. It would fail and undergraduate submission.

      • PFmus says:

        She has her head so far up the Kock brothers’ asses she’s blind.

      • Tom Phillips says:

        A quite ignorant “opera critic” with limited tastes much like her beloved Rudy (hopefully soon to be jailed) Mussolini.

        • Barry says:

          Tom Phillips’ post fits the intellectual level of the typical response to MacDonald from the ignorant on the Left.

    • Joe Markley says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s disingenuous for a policy research institute based in Manhattan to call itself the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Some research groups have names which signal their ideology; most–left or right–don’t.

    • Donna Pasquale says:

      Thank you. When I read her opening line in her article that was abundantly clear. “Fellow” ? Really this is the ongoing undermining of democracy by right wing organisations masquerading as think tanks.

    • Hayne says:

      Hey Music fan,
      Excellent points about Heather MacDonald. But it was just a run of the mill ad hominem attack wasn’t it?
      Since she is so “right wing” it should be easy to critique what she wrote. So go ahead.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      You wish!!!!

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Yes to all your points and the other point one can make about the pro-fascist “Manhattan Institute” bankrolled by Koch Foundation loot is that they actually despise EVERYTHING ABOUT Manhattan and New York City as a whole, along with the great majority of its residents. They even drove the few anti-Trump conservatives such as Sol Stern out of the pages of City Journal.

      • Hayne says:

        Reference to MacDonald “bias” is no substitute for refuting her article by argument.

        • Barry says:

          It’s all they have, while relying on their own abundantly biased media sources that have the gall to call themselves objective reporters of the truth.

  • Marfisa says:

    This is about theatre, not about music.

    Links to different takes on the issues:
    https://www.weseeyouwat.com/
    https://www.americantheatre.org/2020/08/05/when-the-students-have-notes-for-the-teachers/
    https://www.americantheatre.org/2021/04/30/a-teaching-moment-for-juilliard/

    Granted that Heather Mac Donald writes from a conservative viewpoint, what she says should not be dismissed just for that reason; her argument is coherent. But she takes insufficient account of the understandable and historic sensitivities of black Americans. A little empathy would not come amiss

    • The View from America says:

      In the article it states that a follow-up piece will focus on the Music School at Juilliard, due out in a month or two.

    • Y says:

      “Granted that Heather Mac Donald writes from a conservative viewpoint, what she says should not be dismissed just for that reason…”

      Oh no, she writes from “a conservative viewpoint!” Hide the children! The conservatives are coming!

  • NotToneDeaf says:

    The most important point here is being missed: Whatever the Board was thinking in appointing Damian Woetzel is a complete mystery. He’s a DANCER with NO administrative experience and certainly doesn’t understand anything about musicians and their careers. It’s an open secret amidst the halls of Juilliard that Woetzel is clueless on several levels and it’s only a matter of time before he’s gone. As is the case with the mess happening at the Met, people need to look to the BOARD for where the incompetency starts.

    • Ludwig's Van says:

      Cut to the chase: Juilliard has always thought of itself – and therefore perpetuated the myth – that it is the world’s greatest performing arts school. Well, it isn’t. It’s certainly a magnet for fine talent, but much if the training offered is 2nd rate, causing many of their students to “moonlight” – i e., study their major with a teacher outside the school. It’s been going on for years!

      • JoshW says:

        You have no idea what you’re talking about. Name an institution that’s better – including Curtis which is 20 years behind the times in every way.

    • F says:

      Let’s not forget that Juilliard also has Dance and Drama divisions that are co-equals with the Music Division. It would be hard to find someone who checks all three boxes–Mark Morris, perhaps (if one squints).

      • NotToneDeaf says:

        The School doesn’t require someone who’s equally knowledgable about all three disciplines. It does require someone who has experience running a large institution and who is smart enough to know what (s)he doesn’t know. Joe Polisi was trained as a bassoonist but what he did for Juilliard was monumental. He knew how to reach the Drama and Dance Divisions because he surrounded himself with good people who had good advice. Woetzel has none of those attributes.

  • O. Bergine says:

    Juilliard is dead. Long live Manhattan School of Music. It should move to Lincoln Center, and Juilliard can have its old building back. I knew Woetzel would be trouble. Dancers are not that smart.

    • JoshW says:

      While I agree with you about Woetzel, it’s absurd to claim that “Juilliard is dead.” Because it’s had a couple of uneventful years? Hardly the case. Woetzel will be gone soon and hopefully a new President will quickly right the ship. Alas, though, there are few out there with the vision, experience, passion and charisma of Polisi.

  • Amy says:

    It’s just a bunch of blacks stirring up a fuss because they are in an institution that upholds the pinnacle of white culture. This makes them desperately insecure because the pinnacle of black culture is twerking and drive-bys.

    • Nobody special says:

      What an awful and racist thing to write. Shame on you.

      • Amy says:

        Lol that you would think a person who would write that would care about being called racist. I completely embrace my pro white bias. And, based on the thumbs up/down, a significant portion of the audience at least sees some truth in what I’m saying. And if you have spent any significant time around blacks, you would recognize some truth as well.

        • Amy is a racist says:

          Well, since you don’t care about being called a racist, why not write your full name and where you live?

          • Amy says:

            The fact that you have resorted to a “dox yourself” comment proves that you have no coherent argument to refute what I’m saying. Which proves your tacit agreement with my comment. Glad we see eye to eye on this issue.

    • Couperin says:

      Ever heard of John Coltrane?

      • Nobody special says:

        Then that makes the people that agree with you racist as well. This is some shameful s!$t. What a cesspool this site has become.

        • Donna Pasquale says:

          And Norman Lebrecht is seeking advertising and subscriptions? Possibly the KKK might be interested but allowing this original disgusting “post” to remain is shameful.

      • Amy says:

        Ah yes bebop is definitely on the same level as Schubert and Mozart.

        • Couperin says:

          It very much is

        • Marfisa says:

          Your silly comment is like asking whether Italian cuisine is on the same level as Julia Child or Gordon Ramsey.

          Try instead: is Dizzie Gillespie on the same level as Håkan Hardenberger or Wynton Marsalis? Most people (including those two, I suspect) would probably say yes, and higher.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      You are a vile neo-Nazi and thoroughly deserve the fate of its victims.

  • E Rand says:

    It hurts seeing my alma mater sink deeper and deeper into irrelevance. I stopped giving money to J years ago and now I pray that interested students look elsewhere, to ascendant schools in non-rotting metropolises. Juilliard is done. A has-been. Sad.

    • NotToneDeaf says:

      And what schools would those be, pray tell? Name me another school that has access to the faculty that Juilliard has – as opposed to a bunch of has-been and never-were non-performers? Never mind the access to Lincoln Center – still the premiere arts complex in the country.

      • E Rand says:

        Depends on which instrument we are talking about. For strings It would have been nearly impossible to consider any school other than Curtis or Juilliard as recently as 25 years ago. The death of Dorothy Delay (like her or not) atomized violin teaching; Juilliard, and by extension the USA was no longer the “center” as it had been since the days of Auer/Persinger/Galamian/ Delay.
        Access to Lincoln Center? Unnecessary. All the essential constituencies now live-stream and the Met Opera is utterly destroyed for the foreseeable future. New York is a fetid, rotting metropolis with increasingly limited professional opportunities for players – just ask long-time freelancers. Students now know better and look to Rice, Colburn, Yale, Curtis (though less and less so), etc. This is a reality and I find it bizarre when I see people reflexively defend Juilliard as if institutions are eternal. Things die. Juilliard is dying. Has been for a while and I wish it weren’t so.

  • E Rand says:

    I grew up watching The Never-ending Story, in which “The Nothing”, an invisible, malevolent force, slowly devoured the known world. We are living it. Its the most banal, lowest-iq revolution in history.

    • Barry says:

      Well put. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to get blank stares from people when you try to discuss this issue.

      I sometimes feel like I’m in a Twilight Zone episode.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    “….the self-regarding New York conservatoire”
    Juilliard is no more self-regarding than the rest of them.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’m afraid it’s symptomatic of the sheltered mentality that is New York in general. Shallow beyond belief. And they haven’t yet realized there’s a whole world outside the USA.

  • Ken says:

    Reducing an artist to something as arbitrary as their skin tone is anti-art.

  • Tom Phillips says:

    Ah, Heather MacDonald – the Trump-supporting and Rudy Giuliani-worshipping white supremacist for whom there can never be quite enough white Nazi-style police officers torturing and brutalizing any Black person they can find.

  • Donna Pasquale says:

    Reading the thread of comments is very dispiriting. It shows a complete lack of understanding of racism from the Mac Donald camp. Indeed their entire response is to shriek about how awful things are for entitled white people these days.
    The plus side of this is that these -are they white supermacists ? – people are showing their true colors. No pun intended.

    • Nobody Special says:

      Yes, a lot of racist white-supremacists hang out on this site and NL does nothing to dissuade that. Racism=more clicks

    • Barry says:

      There you have it. If you speak out in favor of MacDonald’s position, you may be ….. a “white supremacist.”

      McCarthyism only lasted a few years. This is worse. The people who compare it to the late 60s should be thinking of China in the late 60s; not the U.S.

    • Hayne says:

      How is it a “complete lack of understanding of racism from the MacDonald camp?” Please use facts and be specific. Defend your claim.

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