African-American composer wins London post

African-American composer wins London post


norman lebrecht

May 05, 2022

The London Symphony Orchestra has recruited the US composer and conductor André J Thomas as an Associate Artist.

André J Thomas is a specialist in African-American Music and his appointment will be for three years.

The LSO says: Associate Artists are musicians with distinct influences, quality and style that add diversity and richness to the LSO, creating their own programmes in collaboration with the Orchestra and contributing to the repertoire choices for other programmes throughout the Season.  Conductor and soprano Barbara Hannigan was appointed associate Artist of the LSO in February 2022.


  • Hispa-vox says:

    An irrelevant name for an orchestra such as the LSO, but I figure it ticks the ‘non-white male’ box, which is now so important these days.

    • Adrienne says:

      Yes, and this ‘non-white female’ is not impressed.

      George Floyd, like Tony Timpa, has nothing whatsoever to do with the LSO, or anything else in the UK.

      Shallow tokenism. Sick of it.

      • N/A says:

        Why do you assume it’s tokenism just because he’s black? Why don’t you even consider that he was hired based on his talents?

      • True North says:

        Where was George Floyd mentioned anywhere in this post?

    • Oscar Dodier says:

      Less irrelevant than your very name obviously.

    • Mel Cadman says:

      Why is the name ‘irrelevant’? The LSO’s explanation seems clear enough to me …

    • N/A says:

      Or MAYBE he was hired because he qualified for the job and they liked him? Just a thought.

      • PRK says:

        The idea that he was hired because he was qualified is a thought barely possible to be comprehended by most commenters here. I’ve gotten used to the onslaught of such racism and sexism from the apparently aging readership of this news and commentary service.

      • Helen says:

        And keeps the Arts Council off their backs, as attempts to persuade black people to actually join the audience (even for free) appear to be less successful.

        • Robin Smith says:

          At the RFH time and again I notice the attempt in the first half of the performance and after the interval……………..gone.

          • Anonymous says:

            When are these arts organisations with their puffed up managers realise, that being woke drives the audience away? There’s a reason this music isn’t played! Elephant in the room time. All to get extra funding from ACE. Yes. They really looked after the profession during the pandemic. Not.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It’s a diverse gospel composer:

    There’s nothing wrong with it, it is an American music genre. But it has nothing to do with classical music as practised by a symphony orchestra. So, the LSO is selling out to the Great Awokening, to show how virtuous they are.

    • True North says:

      Many commenters on this site cannot be expected to understand why this is a worthy appointment; it’s simply beyond their capacities to extend their minds past their prejudices. But I don’t think you’re one of them. Try a little harder.

      • John Borstlap says:

        The LSO says:

        “Associate Artists are musicians with distinct influences, quality and style that add diversity and richness to the LSO, creating their own programmes in collaboration with the Orchestra and contributing to the repertoire choices for other programmes throughout the Season.”

        This clearly means: he has to bring-in DIFFERENT music than the orchestra is normally doing, with the aim to ADD DIVERSITY and richness. I.e.: the appointment of an American black gospel composer is supposed to woke the programming a bit, I cannot read it otherwise and I think it is silly. If the man wrote symphonic music, that would be another matter; and for finding orchestral music by black composers one does not need to appoint one. It looks like virtue theatre.

        • FrauGeigerin says:

          @Johnborslap. Another topic for discussion would be if the skin colour or the genitals of a composer should be a factor at all when deciding who to engage or program.

          Adding richness would also be hiring a flamenco singer, a rapper or an African tribal percussionist, but that is not what match with what a symphony orchestra does and needs.

    • Guest says:

      “It” is also a choral conductor, currently president of the American Choral Directors Association. “It” has conducted major classical choral works, from Bach through Stravinsky, as well as contemporary American composers and symphonic gospel. If you want to hear what symphonic gospel is like, here is the Kyrie from “its” Mass: A Celebration of Love and Joy:

      “It” is currently visiting professor of Choral Conducting at Yale (, having recently retired as Director of choral activities, and Professor of choral music education at Florida State University.

      So gospel music “has nothing to do with classical music as practised by a symphony orchestra”? Tell that to Michael Tippett. And do inform Bartok and Vaughan Williams (and Telemann) that classical music should have nothing to do with folk song.

  • Robin Smith says:

    Tickets aren’t selling well for the two Autumn performances (one of the concerts has tickets at much lower prices than standard LSO performances) and some of those designated as not available are either because the Balcony area is closed or are set aside for Wildcard applications or Access members. Time for Woke persons to step up to the plate and book (putting their money where their mouth is).

  • Althea T-H says:

    Still male – but no longer pale and stale.

    So, what’s not to like?

  • fflambeau says:

    He’s only an associate, folks. Lots of people from minorities in similar situations across the world. When he is named, THE conductor, it will be different.

  • chet says:

    OK, we get it, but what, there are no Blacks in classical music in the entire British Commonwealth to choose from?

    So it’s like the Booker Prize, you have to open it up to the entire English speaking world in order to get the best talent?

    Anyway, isn’t it a zero-sum game, one more African-American composer for a British orchestra is one less African-American composer for an American orchestra?

  • Rob Keeley says:

    Go woke, go broke.

    • N/A says:

      Having a Black conductor isn’t ‘woke’. What’s woke about it? Want to explain?

      • John Borstlap says:

        Having a black conductor is not woke, but choosing one to get a woke message across definitely is woke.

  • Peter Osborne says:

    Seems the LSO is taking the Diversity Stance seriously.

    • Southbank fan says:

      Apparently separate audition process for the diversity candidates. If the LSO does this, what hope for lesser well funded organisations?

  • Kman says:

    If the LSO is interested in American spirituals, then I guess this is a solid choice. However, if the goal was primarily diversity, Omar Thomas is young, rising, and important American composer who could benefit from this kind of exposure.

  • Thomas M. says:

    I find it disturbing how many racists are commenting on SD. It’s a shame. Neither of these douches understand what culture is even about.

  • Matias says:

    Reminded me of a symphony I haven’t heard for a while …… until I remembered it was the Kaddish, not the Faddish.

  • Academic says:

    Not even remotely a professional orchestral conductor, Andre Thomas is an academic and a choral conducting pedagogue as well as composer and arranger. I have no idea what sort of projects the LSO hired him for, but don’t worry, he won’t be leading Bruckner symphonies – he will be relegated almost entirely to choral programs with offbeat, experimental themes. In other words you’ll not find it difficult to avoid him. Furthermore, I have worked with him and find him to be a problematic personality who has at least on a few occasions I’m aware of, engaged in inappropriate (sexual) conversations with young students.

  • George says:

    Why is it every time Slipped Disc posts an article about a Black individual, the comments section reads like a gathering of the Ku Klux Klan?

    The bottom-feeders of the Internet have a safe place to vent their grievances, I suppose.

  • Racialist Churner says:

    If there’s anything worse than filthy Russians and sneaky japs, it’s gotta be these “African”-american diversity sociopaths. Let’s leave these key positions to the kind of people that deserve them. It’s England, what’s wrong with a native white British-american?