How orchestras became instruments of social policy

How orchestras became instruments of social policy


norman lebrecht

April 28, 2022

From an essay I have written in the new issue of The Critic:

Think hard, and you may remember a time when a symphony orchestra was a collection of musical instruments rather than an instrument of social policy. It was not that long ago, around the turn of the century, when concert halls would roll out a forthcoming season of symphonic cycles and new commissions, a programme shaped by the taste and proclivities of a music director, the likes and abilities of the musicians and a reasoned assessment of what might make the box office click.

No longer.

London’s Southbank Centre’s season brochure buries its two resident symphony orchestras beneath the “exciting” addition of new ensembles — the “immersive” Paraorchestra, a worthy group of musicians with disabilities, and Chineke!, an orchestra of ethnic minority musicians. The release goes on to promise “genre-blurring pioneers and big names in classical music”. Who, for instance? “Abel Selaocoe, Daniel Pioro, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Víkingur Ólafsson and Manchester Collective”.

So, not the Vienna Philharmonic. Or Riccardo Muti. Or any lions of the classical jungle. What we are witnessing is a pandemic of reformist box-ticking that places policy above pulling power. Forget about a box office that is running one-third below capacity. Forget about the music, too. The new curators have higher priorities….

Read on here.


  • Akutagawa says:

    Reactionary BS of the highest order. People will turn up for the Vienna Phil anyway, so what’s wrong with actively promoting other artists instead?

    And have you even listened to Abel Selaocoe, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, or Víkingur Ólafsson? I’d far sooner go to one of their concerts than hear the Vienna Phil dial in Brahms 3 for the umpteenth time.

    • phf655 says:

      Kanneh-Mason played the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the New York Philharmonic about six months ago. I thought he was way over head, with intonation problems and generally inexpressive playing. I have never before heard of Salaocoe, a South African cellist, whose career these days seems to be focused on what in the United States is called ‘world music’ but does the presence of a 38 year old Icelandic pianist with an unusual name (Olafsson) make the South Bank season more diverse?

    • John Borstlap says:

      That is not the point. Different performers than usual is always a good idea, but when they are obviously chosen for PC reasons, to jump upon the bandwagon of fashionable rumours, it is something that signals the lack of confidence in the art form itself, and shows the wish to make classical music ‘useful’ to society. While the art form is useful in itself, also without the PC icing on a cake of insecurity.

  • phf655 says:

    The question is why administrators and Boards of Directors in the United States find this to happen, where orchestras continue to be supported by box office receipts and private funds. Will it substantially change the make up of the audience? The Boston Symphony will devote two solid subscription weeks, out of 24, to music by African-American composers next season, performed by African-American conductors and soloists. And this in a state (i.e. Massachusetts) whose population is 6% African-American. One can harp about white privilege, but the BSO and its sister orchestras in the USA, were founded by beneficiaries of white privilege in the first gilded age, whose descendants have continued to support them. Danny Newman, the so-called whiz of symphony orchestra marketing in the 70’s and 80’s, used to say that the target audience for marketing tickets to orchestral concerts was the ‘top 1 and half percent’. Little or nothing has or will substantially change this. I was recently fortunate to attend the Britten War Requiem in Boston, and on a Friday afternoon there was scarcely a black or brown face in the sizable audience. Two weeks of William Grant Still’s Symphony #1 and William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony will not alter this pattern.

    • Adrienne says:


      In June, the LSO will present its annual free concerts in Trafalgar Square. Anyone can turn up and listen. As usual, it will be 99.9% white and E Asian.

      • Cornell says:

        Black people being invisible and off the radar in your little cozy little white supremacist world.

        • Adrienne says:

          My entire family is black but nobody could accuse them of being invisible, although there have been times when I wish one or two members had adopted a slightly lower profile.

          However, ‘a cozy little white supremacist world’ is not something we have first hand experience of.

    • Anon says:

      Are minorities coming to classical programs because of the new wokeness? I have been to several concerts in New York that included pieces by minority composers, but I didn’t see more minority faces in the audience.

      Classical concerts are already in trouble. Why alienate the audience you have, when the new audience won’t come despite whatever you do?

      And to Mr. Ewell. Saint-Georges is a fourth-rate classical composer. He’s as good as Wagenseil or Gassman, but he lacks the creativity of a Mozart or Haydn. CPE Bach, JC Bach, Boccherini, and Vanhal are also much better composers than Saint-Georges.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I try to figure out what a minority face looks like. Will it be a stern, defiant face, pickled by years of adversity? Or a meek, passive face, trying to avoid attention in the aggressive majority crowd? Or a dreamy face with the mind wandering elsewhere, as highly-gifted people often wear? (They are a minority too, as we know.) Or an anxious face fearful of being discovered of privately cultivating a rare amorous interest variety? I think this is an appropriate subject for a research project of the Texas Institute of Technology.

  • Midwestern Violin says:

    The full article is super. But conductors with a quintuple life can’t be champions of anything, let alone the truth.

  • N/A says:

    Even for your standards Norman, this is pretty low. I would think at your age that you’d understand the importance of diversity in the classical music industry, no? Or are you throwing your toys out of the pram because you don’t want to see non-white, non-straight people on the stage? That’s what it sounds like to me.

    • John R. says:

      You don’t think Norman wants to see non whites on the stage? Has he objected to some of the great black or brown artists of the past….A, Watts, L. Price, J. Laredo, etc.? No he hasn’t…. which would suggest he cares not about race but standards. I suspect you care about the opposite. If so….enjoy your Florence Price.

    • M2N2K says:

      Of course diversity is important, but not at the expense of quality. Different kinds of classical music should be performed because the pieces are worthy of being heard and not because they were written by people of a certain skin color or gender, or certain sexual preference/orientation/identity/expression or whatever. The same goes for performers: they should be heard because of the high quality of their individual artistry and not because of their belonging to a certain group that is considered more deserving than others.

      • N/A says:

        I would agree, but when they have unequal opportunities to actually perform compared to their white/straight etc counterparts, you have to actively give them those opportunities. Surely you understand that those of minority backgrounds do have less opportunities?

        • John Borstlap says:

          But WHERE in the trajectory of a career do they have less opportunities, and less so than white career trajectories? Who is going to decide whether an obstacle is due to racist discrimination and not to some other type of discrimination, or to misunderstanding, or to a lack of ears (very common in music life, more so than elsewhere)? It is all based upon assumptions, and the only really concrete visible obstacle is at the beginning of the trajectory: education, specialist coaching, entry at conservatories and universities due to fees. So, it seems to me, a poverty problem rather than a race problem.

          • N/A says:

            “But WHERE in the trajectory of a career do they have less opportunities?” Throughout the entire trajectory John. Like you say, it all starts from the very beginning: in education, in fees etc. And it is a race problem. If the majority of people that cannot afford these conservatoires are of a certain ethnicity, then it is a race problem. We need to improve those areas of this country, give them EQUAL opportunity.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Yes, one could also argue in that way. But I’m quite sceptical about playing the race card later in the trajectory, like at auditions, or programming, because it can disguise other, equally important factors.

          • N/A says:

            The fact that you are unable to identify or see where they have less opportunities goes to show that you have never suffered in the same way. Which is of course good for you, no one should go through that. But it might be worth talking to a person of colour who has experienced this and hearing what they have to say.

          • John Borstlap says:

            In the reality of the music world, which is a kind of Wild West territory, requiring ‘equal opportunities’ is a pipe dream. Unfair exclusion happens everywhere in society but more so in the classical music world. The suggested assumption that the music world should somehow be fairly organised, is impossible. Any unfair exclusion is a mentality problem related to specific individuals and that is entirely random.

            Why don’t we hear about the ridiculous, self-defeating discrimination of music, of composers, from the interbellum and fifties and sixties of the last centuries, who were not interested in modernism but were highly-gifted artists, and who were condemned by the ‘tastemakers’ for being ‘irrelevant’? For ‘refusing to accept mdoernity’? The scale of that kind of ridiculous discrimination that took place in the last century drawfs any racist discrimination at the time, I’m sure.

          • NJCPE says:

            Mr. Borstlap,
            so tonal composers after WWII suffered more exclusion than minorities have?
            I am aware the experts on this site have a rather low opinion of Boulez, but his and his ilk‘s attempt to erase the past was a necessary and important step in music history. to not see this is dim

          • John Borstlap says:

            It is simply not true. I have been excluded from my conservatory study: not allowed to enter the final exam (because of writing the wrong music), study abroad was sabotaged by the same conservatory, available grant systems and fee structures for commissions were inaccessible (for the same reason), so I am an expert on exclusion and discrimination. I can identify puffickly well with victims of exclusion, only: it is nonsense to focus upon only one way of being excluded, and to forget that in any society there are fair and unfair roads, and different people everywhere who may influence your own trajectory. When you are denied opportunities which were rightfully yours, you have to battle more and with more persistence than if you always get what you want. In the end, it is character building, and of course you should never give up or give in where obstacles are absurd and stupid. It does not need saying that racism and any discrimination should be battled and education should insist on civil society; but education seems to me much better than using orchestras as instruments for social engineering. It is the wrong instrument.

        • M2N2K says:

          Not at all. At least here in USA, lately “they” have been having noticeably MORE of the good quality “opportunities to actually perform than their white/straight etc counterparts”.

          • John Borstlap says:

            I know of at least one white highly-gifted and successful composer, who was kicked-out as composer-in-residence of an ensemble, to make place for silly amateurs who wrote ditto music with social justice titles and who were of black, hispano and otherwise ethnically-challenged ‘composers’. The difference in quality was abyssmal – but the wrapping paper apparently irresistable.

  • Lothario Hunter says:

    The Bull. Not lion. He likes to be called the Bull (el Toro). Why an illustrious conductor would like that, I truthfully can’t fathom, but I nonetheless feel obliged to let SD readers know.

    The jungle aka “tropical forest” reference is right on the money. It’s where El Toro loves to roam. With some luck, and the right astral conjunctions, it may even elicit a response from … Him! The stirred Maestro will want to capture the momentous occasion in a timeless close-up, for posterity.

  • DownvoteKing says:

    Just say you hate black people and get it over with. There is no “social policy”. I love how conservative freaks cry that they are subjected to “social manipulation” if they have to sit through something created by someone that isn’t white. Orchestras are simply attempting to be more inclusive and varied in their programming, which is a good thing. God forbid you have to sit through William Grant Still’s Second Symphony to hear Beethoven 5, instead of Dvorak Carnival Overture and Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. 1970 is never coming back, your precious days of white only concert programs are over. Get over it. If you don’t like it, I’d like to direct you to Spotify, or Apple Music where you can listen to Karl Bohm conduct Mozart 40 for the rest of your life.

    • Andrew says:

      At least your handle is apposite.

    • John Randolph says:

      If orchestra’s across the world suddenly decided they needed to fill their season with say…. Irish composers….because diversity is so vital, do you think his opinion would be any different? If you like Florence Price…. great. Knock yourself out and have a ball. I think she’s second rate. (Btw, for the record, I think Joplin is one of America’s greatest originals.) If your opinions were more sound maybe you wouldn’t have to resort bullying taunts of racism.

    • Nathaniel Rosen says:

      False accusations of racism are scoundrelly.

    • Alan says:

      Your reply is utterly proposterous!

  • Derek H says:


    That is a well written article.

    You make very relevant points and they need to be recognised.

    The pity is that the people who WANT equality, fairness and accessibilty for everyone, irrespective of race, gender or background are becoming resentful and angry by these condescending, patronising and misguided practices.

    Unless music and performers are included on merit, and NOT to fit an agenda or be proportionately representative then it will be OBVIOUS and many music lovers (of all backgrounds) will be turned off and stop attending.

    I am not political and I take each person as an individual, but I don’t like double standards and don’t want to be treated like a child who needs to be spoon fed!

    • Michael Putsch says:

      I agree with you. However our past sins will continue to raise the discrimination question in cultural offerings.
      Sadly, fairness and high standards getting mixed in the debate if what to program and why, is where we’re heading.

  • MacroV says:

    You’re not talking about an orchestra here; you’re talking about a presenter. I’m not sure of the contractual relationship of the South Bank Center and its resident orchestras, but generally it’s up to the orchestras themselves to promote themselves. But Chineke (sp?) and such are presentations of South Bank, so yes, they’ll get the headlines.

    As I recall, there was once a music journalist named Norman Lebrecht. He lamented, among other things, the reliance on the same old performers and repertoire. Now that a mainstream venue is showing a little innovation, a new person writing under that name criticizes that, too.

  • Mirabelle says:

    How do you square this:
    a) UK government prides itself on fighting “wokery”;
    b) but ACE and/or DCMS do set out explicit demands for every ounce of possible wokeness (“relevance”) from the arts.
    What are people supposed to do?

  • Boris says:

    No matter how much you and the reactionaries who troll this site may rail against it, the classical music world is changing, and changing for the better. No one is throwing out the past or stepping back from high quality music or putting politics ahead of art. But a lot of people both here and in the US are sincerely trying to work for a music world that is open, inclusive, generous, contemporary and relevant. You claim that you have long campaigned for an “even playing field.” Well, this is what that looks like, and it’s very overdue. And you will still be able to hear your Mahler by the Vienna Philharmonic…

  • Andy says:

    Bullseyes, Norman. Every. Single. Word.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Thanks, Andy.

      • NJCPE says:

        You practice the very thing you deride in others- cancelling. You have created a classicla music site for the small minded. congratulations. Orchesyras have always been an instruyof solcial policy. This can’t be news even to you.

        • John Borstlap says:

          It is not true that orchesyras have always been an instruyof solcial policy. That only happened during the nazi era and in the Soviet Union, and everybody knows how awful that was and how denigrating.

          • Njcpe says:

            Dear Mr. Borstlap,
            Thanks for pointing out the misspellings. I hope to do better in the future to keep up with the poets on this site. Of course there are silly, over-done decisions being made in the name of diversity and inclusion.
            That gives fodder to pretentious pearl-clutchers to gripe about the impending end of classical music. It will survive. In spite of diversity, inclusion and thos of you who don’t want it. The cream rises to the top much, if not most of the time.
            It is a real shame you were excluded from studying for having written the “wrong” music. One might think you could have more sensitivity to those who have REALLY been excluded or ignored. To group yourself with minorities in your respective “exclusions” is rich.

          • John Borstlap says:

            I know, it’s all very difficult. Nonetheless, persistence pays-off in the end, so I would advise: don’t give up!

  • John R. says:

    I admire your bravery, Mr. Lebrecht. What, it’s brave just to state the obvious?…..that the second rate are….well, second rate? But sadly those are the times we live in.

    I wonder who these wokesters are programming for? Not me and I’ve spent my entire life supporting and dedicated to classical music. And as a result, they’ve lost me. I won’t go to any more concerts as long as this silliness persists. I can find countless great performances on Youtube for free.

    Paradoxically they seem more interested in catering to a group who has little interest in classical music and has no history of supporting it. We’ll see how that works out for them.

    • Akutagawa says:

      The point you and other posters on this topic are comprehensively missing is that the South Bank Centre at least (America is a different matter) is in receipt of considerable amounts of public money and simply cannot allow itself to behave as if a considerable portion of its potential demographic doesn’t exist. You really need to smell the coffee. Every day that passes, London is getting a little less English and a little less white. This might be a good thing, this might be a bad thing, but what it most certainly isn’t is reversible. If organisations like the SBC are to have any hope of hanging on to their Arts Council funding, they simply have to jump through these “woke” hopes, no matter how absurd they seem to you. If you can’t accept that, then get the SBC to hand back its subsidies and get used to paying the market rate for your high culture. Three hundred quid a ticket for the Vienna Phil? Sounds about the right ballpark.

      • John Randolph says:

        You make a good point. If British orchestras are taking the money then they are beholden to the whims of self serving politicians, etc. In the US we have a different and I think a better system. The arts are funded by citizens who are passionate about them which is why I’m puzzled to see this happening here. I don’t believe that most music lovers want to see orchestras used as social justice play things. Btw, you made your point without a resorting to disgusting aspersions. Maybe it’s because you have a real point so you could rely on that alone. I wish others would take note.

      • Allen says:

        “a considerable portion of its potential demographic doesn’t exist. You really need to smell the coffee. Every day that passes, London is getting a little less English and a little less white.”

        It’s potential demographic is not confined to London, it includes the whole of the South East and a considerable number of tourists. That demographic is not significantly black.

        The SBC should cater for those who are actually interested in attending, regardless of where they are from. The composition of the London electoral register is irrelevant. As Adrienne has already pointed out here, black people are not even interested in free concerts in Trafalgar Square, so what are the chances of them buying tickets for the SBC?

    • N/A says:

      A) Thank god we’ll never bump into you at a concert
      B) What is your evidence for this line? “Paradoxically they seem more interested in catering to a group who has little interest in classical music and has no history of supporting it.”

  • JT Williams says:

    Finally, the absolute truth for the rest of us! I attend performing arts to be entertained and enlightened, not to be made to feel guilty for things I have or had no control over. Knee jerk orchestral programming is not going to save the ills of society. I’m glad someone finally has the balls to say what needs to be said. For once, I’ll agree with you.

  • David says:

    Just look into the William Grant Still estate for some shocking ideologies. The family is trying to actively cancel Gershwin, calling Porgy rascist and artistic theft. Anyone ordering music from them will get a dozen proganda pamphlets with their order. I just want good music new and old.

  • Violinista Italian says:

    I hope that Maestro give me una “dedica”.!

  • Shaun says:

    I wouldn’t disagree with a word of this article.
    Whilst it’s tempting to pick holes in the futility and hypocrisy of the whole woke BS culture and its milquetoast administrators, I believe the real end solution will be a hard financial one.
    When it becomes apparent that audiences are shrinking rather than growing because, by and large, they will not put their hands in their pockets for second rate music that ticks boxes, or endure this relentless patronising hectoring, it’s not going to be so easy to throw away the donated money from dwindling coffers promoting these ideologies.

  • Max Raimi says:

    “Top billing in their Southbank season goes to a Lyric for Strings by one George Walker. If the name fails to ring Bow bells, Walker was an African-American, the first ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music. His Lyric is vaguely lovely in a post-Mahler, post-Samuel Barber Adagiettoish sort of way, though never on the same plane of ironic ambiguity or quivering emotion.”
    I like this piece rather more than you do, Norman. I performed it last season, and in my view it deserves a place in the repertoire. If we are only going to play works that measure up to the Mahler Adagietto, we are going to be contending with a vanishingly small repertoire. Not even most Mahler would make the cut.
    “In 2022 Beethoven is unperformable alone and in his own right. In order to play his music in any concert hall you have to furnish it with freshly minted drivel by Wordsmith — ‘positive vibes’, he calls it, in a pathetic closing cliché.”
    Seriously? Here in Chicago, we are playing the Sixth this week, unadulterated. Next week the Fourth and the Egmont Overture. I would bet a substantial sum of money that something close to the Urtext version of the Ninth will be performed a few hundred times around the world in the next year or so.
    I think you are going around the bend there, Norman.

  • Max Raimi says:

    One further point. “Democrats on Capitol Hill have turned the likes of Baltimore and the National Symphony into Petri dishes of social manipulation…”
    I did some on line research, and as far as I can determine, the BSO receives not a penny in federal funds, and the National Symphony only gets money for the upkeep of the Kennedy Center. The most recent citation of NEA money for Baltimore I could find dates to 2014, and in any case Congress is certainly not micromanaging those expenditures. If you have some real evidence that the Senate and House are holding these institutions hostage over “wokeness” (whatever that is), I would love to see it.

  • •u• says:

    As both a disabled person and a person of colour, this gesture honestly seems not any better to show inclusion than if they’d just hire POC and visibly disabled people into the symphony instead, rather than shoving us into little dedicated ensembles created for token points. After all, they are as capable of musicianship as anyone.
    Also, the classical music industry was created by White people- so are there not wonderfully talented composers today who compose music with elements of diverse cultures? I just think that the best way to actually show your ‘diversity’ through music is just treat world music like a NORMAL THING, instead of a novelty item for people to advertise / for ‘educational’ purposes.

  • Miko says:

    It’s called ‘change’.
    And it’s led by the young, who inherit a messed up world from us.
    The least us oldies can do is hand it over with grace and humility, and perhaps a hint of contrition.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    “Crapulous pieties of social justice”. I will enjoy repeating this lovely Lebrechtian phrase.

  • Benjamin Steinhardt says:

    Symphony Orchestras have been instruments of social policy since their inception.

    Often they were meeting grounds for members of the aristocracy and/or upper middle class. Frequently, they’ve been used as instruments of propaganda (in the negative and positive sense) and nationalism.

    As for Beethoven, whose Symphonies are held up as exemplars no person (particularly no person of color) could possibly match, I can’t imagine anything more lifeless than yet another cycle divorcing his work from its revolutionary German enlightenment ideals.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The idea that classical music was and is a mere symbol of identity signifying and of class suppression by the boozjwazee, is an invention of marxist sociologist Pierre Bourdieu who considered culture as symbolic capital in a marxist class setting. In his view, classical music was not a value in itself, an art form with its own meaning, but a social instrument. So, music without political meaning did not exist. The man should have been locked-up.

      That people misuse classical music for political ends does not mean that music is, by its nature, a political instrument. A hammer is a tool for construction, but using it as a murderous weapon does not mean it is a weapon in the first place, the same goes for bread knifes.

  • n says:

    Your mistake is in seeing them as previously neutral and just about the music. Orchestras were set up in favour of white able-bodied men. White able-bodied male musicians were actively picked for positions over people of colour, people with disabilities, women. And still are in many cases, though it’s certainly changed a lot for gender. Orchestras are not and never were neutral and impartial. An orchestra which until recently only picked white able-bodied men is exactly the same as what Chineke! does now, just slightly less explicit about what it’s doing.

    And the likes of Chineke! and Paraorchestra having to exist shows how far there is to go – they’re analogous to the women’s orchestras of the first half of the 20th century, which existed cos women were mostly not allowed in other orchestras.

    • MuddyBoots says:

      I was just about to write the same thing. Orchestras proudly claimed that they selected players based only on performance ability, but somehow only white males were hired. When orchestras began to switch to completely blind auditions, there was an immediate change as many more women and minorities (heavily Asian, but still) were hired. Immediate change in hiring! So try explain to me how classical music has always been blind to anything other than demonstrated ability? That lie went on for ages.

      • E Rand says:

        Until the 1970’s the United stated was essentially 90% white. With other races primarily at the lower socioeconomic level. This racial diversifying of orchestras happening in tandem with the racial diversifying of the country. Additionally…blind auditions immediately resulted in strong female and later, Asian representation. Decades later, blacks are still a rarity. Perhaps the problem starts at home.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Just for your information: in 18C and 19C Europe there were hardly any blacks, chinese, huns, indians etc. etc. around getting into classical music. People getting into music were from the European bourgeoisie, the same class who created the public concert world, the museums, democracy, educational systems, scientific and cultural academia. So it is puffickly normal that most people working there, were from the same background. This was not ‘a lie’ but simply the normal, usual social condition of the times. It is nonsensical to project ideas and constellations of today into the past.

      • John Borstlap says:

        This is muddying the waters with over-size, thoughtless boots.

        In the past, there simply was – in music life – hardly ANY awareness of disabled, black, transgender, homosexual, psychiatriccally-challenged, blind, deaf, or autistic clubfoot players, orchestras hired what came to them as available. There is not a shred of evidence that orchestras in the past, from their inception onwards in the 18th century, had a well-established and formulated policy to only appoint white supremacy players.

        To project contemporary ideas and requirements into the past always results in totally false pictures.

  • E Rand says:

    Nothing funnier than watching Leftists fret over the monstrous (and insanely predictable) results of their own advocacy and values.
    “We wanted to destroy Western civilization, but only thiiiiiis far. Not THAT far!”

  • DanP says:

    Why is this an issue for some people? Why are people so offended about something that really doesn’t have anything to do with them? Could it be there is some underlying animus against people who aren’t like them?

    What’s it to them if a group of disabled people, gay people, non-white people, or women get together to make music in a public venue? Straight white men have been doing that for quite some time, no?

    And are these complainers not the same folks who criticized very hire of a (pick your minority) by an otherwise mainly white group as a diversity hire? Of course, this exposes the underlying prejudice that such folks have.

    One can choose to attend or not attend such a concert by an artist or group and judge them on their own merits like any other group. But it seems like some of us here get pleasure out of experiencing a (fill-in-the-blank) person/group who isn’t like them who may have played less well than they would like and so, confirming their own bias about a group.

    I just wonder how the smugness and know-it-all attitude among many of the posters would compare to their actual musical ability and knowledge in real life.

  • JohninDenver says:

    I laughed out loud at the idea of “Democrats on Capitol Hill” demanding performances of Florence Price symphonies. Norman, sometime you must make a trip to our fascinating country and inquire about the relationship between classical music and elected politicians! You will discover that there is none.

  • Donna Pasquale says:

    No I did not bother to read more of this drivel.

  • musicologist from Poland says:

    But social politics in music is nothing new! Have a look et the history of Soviet Union and other European communist states – only the priorities were different: working class as a as a goal and benchmark

  • David says:

    Thank you, Norman. So true, and so in need of being said. As a lifelong professional musician dedicated to the highest standards of our art, utterly without regard to race, I’m appalled by the virtue-signaling woke racist policies and programming that sully our beloved concert halls today. We demean the decades of black artists, Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman etc etc etc who astounded us with the purity of their art with no thought to ethnicity, and force feed the public the mediocrity of Sheku, who in his NY Phil appearance assuredly was the only cellist on stage who could not play the Dvorak concerto in tune. Black composers and musicians have never been unrecognized when worthy by merit, Samuel Coleridge Taylor was a guest of Teddy Roosevelt’s at the White House because if his world fame in the early 20th century.
    What’s happening today is a shameful erosion of standards to placate the arrogance of self righteous philistines, and it is certainly not going unnoticed amongst professionals.