The only Black CEO of a leading US orchestra

The only Black CEO of a leading US orchestra

News

norman lebrecht

June 10, 2021

The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra today appointed Anwar Nasir as its executive director.

Nasir, 37, is currently Chief Revenue & Advancement Officer at Omaha Symphony.

It is truly shocking that, with all its diversity v-ps, the League of American Orchestras has no other African-American CEO. Lots of lip-service, no beef on the plate.

 

 

Comments

  • SMH says:

    American orchestras have had diversity initiatives for decades. Audience development, education, children’s programs etc. Performances dedicated to Revueltas/Chavez, jazz series, all down the line. There doesn’t seem to be that much of an appetite for the classical arts in certain demographics. Any other business would accept these facts and MOVE ON.

    • Adrienne says:

      As Ivan Hewett, music critic, says:

      ‘It’s not just the fact that it’s mostly white people who like classical music that makes the artform suspect – it’s the fact that the artform’s history is inevitably mostly white. It’s just an immovable fact about classical music that it arose in Europe.’

      Precisely.

    • Marfisa says:

      “There doesn’t seem to be that much of an appetite for the classical arts in certain demographics.”

      A perfect example of the attitude criticized by Aaron Flagg, in the excellent article recommended below by Flambeau, which goes into detail about the history of initiatives to increase diversity, and the reasons for their limited success so far. In case people are too busy to read the whole article, here is part of the analogy he makes (on p.2)

      ‘If I said that anyone in town can come to my home to eat dinner this weekend, but assumed there was no need to include my address, shared this invitation only with people I already knew and liked, spent no time learning how to make all guests feel welcome, and neglected to consider that for decades my ancestors had literally and figuratively burned most of the bridges from certain parts of town to my home, you would advise me to not be surprised by a lack of diverse attendees.’

      ‘In my analogy, it would be surprising and illogical for me to assume that the reason I lack diverse dinner attendees is because people were simply not hungry. This is the same type of irrational conclusion many in American classical music make about the lack of diversity in the field.’

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      But there’s no money or gravy train in THAT!!!!

  • NYMike says:

    Quite a change from the ’57- ’58 New Orleans Philharmonic’s (LA Phil’s predecessor) season when a black high school student won a piano competition and wasn’t allowed to play with the orchestra.

  • Wow says:

    Maybe the best people for the jobs in the past have coincidentally happened to have other colors of skin?

    People need to chill out.

  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    ==Maybe the best people for the jobs in the past have coincidentally happened to have other colors of skin?

    Yes, it’s pretty much a European art form.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      “Father, forgive me for I have sinned. I’ve attended concerts with mostly white musicians playing white composers on instruments built by white makers in concert halls built by mostly white workers, financed by mostly white governments.”

      “For your penance you need to say three “mea culpas” and donate the money for your next concerts to a charitable organization in Africa.”

  • The White Clefs of Dover says:

    “ It is truly shocking that, with all its diversity v-ps, the League of American Orchestras has no other African-American CEO. Lots of lip-service, no beef on the plate.”

    Remind me, Norman – how many UK orchestras have black CEOs?

    • Saxon says:

      Um…ethnic minority people form a much larger proportion of the US population than they do in the UK. And are much more strongly segregated.

  • fflambeau says:

    “The history of discrimination
    at America’s orchestras is
    not discussed or commonly
    known, because it is painful,
    embarrassing, and contrary
    to how we want to view
    ourselves.” from a very good and detailed study by Aaron Flagg, “Anti-Black Discrimination in American Orchestras,” at 35 (Summer 2020). See https://americanorchestras.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Anti-Black-Discrimination-in-American-Orchestras.pdf

    This organisation also provided “catalyst grants” to member orchestras to hire for diversity. They have provided musical fellowships to provide for diversity for Afro-American and Latino musicians including: (over time) 29 fellows with the New York Philharmonic, 6 with the Pittsburgh Symphony, 15 with the Detroit Symphony, 4 with the Chicago Symphony and 3 with the L.A. Philharmonic to name but a few. These are good ideas but should be expanded and extended to all American orchestras.

    I commend Dr. Flagg’s detailed work (he holds a chair at the Juilliard School).

    • Marfisa says:

      Thank you.

    • Luke F says:

      (noticing all the low-iq social agitation at Juilliard, this now makes sense).

    • SMH says:

      Diversity fellowships go to young musicians of color who have attended Julliard, Colburn, Curtis, Indiana etc. They are as well equipped to win an audition as any other young professional. The fellowships give an unfair advantage over Caucasian and Asian students. Auditions are blind, fellowships are not.

  • Thierrence Nye says:

    I’m very concerned about this entire notion of musicians as the repair people for centuries of geopolitical and social/spiritual warfare against those of color. In Conservatories they have begun the overuse (IMHO) of the phrase “citizen artists,” students are encouraged not only to have two majors, just in case, but to master an entrepreneurial spirit so that, if all else fails, you will have created you own job. This fosters the idea that we need no one but ourselves. We put all the emphasis on self-sufficiency and none on community in American culture. But in 3rd world countries it would be the opposite. The value is in community coming together to support each other. And so capitalism has a fundamental culture clash with dictatorships, which leave their citizens bereft of any ability to help themselves. In addition to the many disadvantages we have in the States owing to the take-over of our government by corruption, people of color are targeted with an engineered kind of deprivation of opportunity and are generally forced to live in large metropolitan areas with little access to meaningful jobs, poor quality public education in their neighborhoods absent arts programs in the schools, weak social services, and a miserable public transportation infrastructure in some of those mid-sized metropolitan areas. How do we successfully raise young musicians of color under these arduous circumstances to then successfully compete in high school for the few coveted music conservatory positions available. This is an expensive pursuit. Frequently a discouraging pursuit. It takes a lot of support to study music for all of us. I wonder if this isn’t more to the point.

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