The wokest orchestra in America

The wokest orchestra in America


norman lebrecht

May 18, 2022

Welcome to Akron, Ohio.

Here is their forthcoming concert season, built around achingly correct criteria:

A few statistics help tell the story: our seven-concert series comprises twenty-seven works. 59% are by American composers—this in itself is a rarity among American orchestras; 52% by composers of color; and 33% by Black Americans. Seven works are by living composers, almost all of whom plan to come to Akron for our performances. 

The music director is Christopher Wilkins. This is his 17th season.




  • alan says:

    What happens in Akron should stay in Akron – a rust-bucket town long past its glory days

    • John Mark Rozendaal says:

      Everyone who outlives their glory days should obviously have the good grace to go home and drop dead.

    • J Barcelo says:

      How rude. Yes, Akron has problems like many other cities in that part of the world. The Akron Symphony provides a glimmer of hope, a source of beauty in an otherwise too often depressing place. The orchestra is excellent and unlike most other groups out there they do reach out to the community – the Gospel series they do is always jam packed. And the upcoming Mahler 3rd will be, too.

      • Pierre says:

        Yeah, Mahler WILL be packed, but the rest of the crap they plan to do. The “woke” step is exactly a step NOT to reach the COMMUNITY! Community needs Music, not woke idiocy!

    • GFY says:

      Performing artists to come from Akron include bands such as Ruby and the Romantics; Devo; The Black Keys; The Cramps, whose lead singer, Lux Interior, was a native of the town; rapper Ampichino; The Waitresses; and 1964 the Tribute; singers Vaughn Monroe; Chrissie Hynde, lead singer and main composer with British New Wave band The Pretenders; James Ingram; Joseph Arthur; Jani Lane; Rachel Sweet; and outlaw country singer David Allan Coe; Actors Frank Dicopoulos, David McLean, Melina Kanakaredes, Elizabeth Franz, William Boyett, Lola Albright, and Jesse White. Clark Gable and John Lithgow also lived in Akron.

    • GFY Again says:

      Noted athletes to have come from Akron include National Basketball Association MVPs LeBron James, and Stephen Curry, Basketball Hall of Famers Gus “Honeycomb” Johnson and Nate “The Great” Thurmond, Major League Baseball player Thurman Munson, International Boxing Hall of Famer Gorilla Jones, WBA Heavyweight Boxing Champion Michael Dokes, Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus, former Northwestern University and Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian, and Butch Reynolds, former world record holder in the 400 meter dash. Former NFL linebacker James Harrison was born in Akron, as was current Tennessee Titans head coach, Mike Vrabel. Clayton Murphy, professional middle-distance runner and 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist, competed in cross country and track & field for the Akron Zips.

    • One more time GFY says:

      Akron’s research in polymers gained an international reputation. It now centers the Polymer Valley which consist of 400 polymer-related companies, of which 94 were located in the city itself. Research is focused at the University of Akron, which is home to the Goodyear Polymer Center and the National Polymer Innovation Center, and the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. Because of its contributions to the Information Age, Newsweek listed Akron fifth of ten high-tech havens in 2001. In 2008 “City of Invention” was added to the seal when the All-America City Award was received for the third time. Some events of the 2014 Gay Games used the city as a venue. In 2013, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company opened its new global headquarters on Innovation Way, further cementing the company’s relationship with the city.

    • Mark says:


  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    Traditional concertgoer says: Oh no, new music again. I just would like to hear Mahler in person and see a performance of a great concerto by Prokofiev.

    Woke words: This is the birth of a new symphony program. To the end of White, Euro-centric music— 59% American means it’s not daring enough.

    Eventually Akron might fire its white musicians, lest they be accused of allowing whites to profit from the work of Black composers.

    • Player says:

      You would’ve hated 18C Vienna…

    • Hugo Preuß says:

      I live a few thousand miles away from Akron, but I would LOVE to hear that concert series. After decades and decades of always listening to basically the same programs, a series of concerts where I probably don’t know a huge chunk of the music would be such a welcome change.

      And that goes for the many, many neglected dead white European males who composed great music as well. But I’d be willing to take what I can get.

  • anmarie says:

    This will surely be their most successful concert series ever!

  • christopher storey says:

    “This is in itself a rarity ” . I am reminded of my piano teacher , a distinguished UK broadcaster of the past, who conceived the desire to perform the Tchaikovsky Piano Sonata on the grounds that no one played it : he was only dissuaded from it by another great performer, Gordon Green , who stated that there was a reason why no one played it : it had no merit !

    • M McAlpine says:

      Yes like when someone calls a work ‘a neglected masterpiece’ you usually find out why it is neglected!

  • Fenway says:

    Let Lebron James conduct his hometown orchestra. Akron is, as the Don might say, a shi.hole. Hopefully all the folks that work at the Goodyear plant will enjoy the season.

  • Bostin'Symph says:

    I wish them, with all sincerity, best wishes. Maybe they or their audiences might like them to slot in a piece or two from a dead white European male next season: I’ve heard that there are a few works of merit from that source!

  • anmarie says:

    This has success written all over it!

  • Matt says:

    They are playing a piece called “Double Concerto for Justice and Piece”. Must be with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton

  • Just a Member of the Audience says:

    So far the usual snide comments. But has NL or anybody actually looked at what they’re going to play? In a seven concert season, there’s something for everybody; Mahler 3, Beethoven 6, An American in Paris, Britten’s 4 Sea Interludes, Brahms Requiem, and more. Sounds pretty interesting mot me.

    • MARC FELDMAN says:

      Congrats on a fine and innovative season! The snide remarks are from another age.

    • David Jensen says:

      Better line up then the upcoming Seattle symphony and we have a well regarded orchestra.

    • Jacke Azze says:

      Hear, hear! A little research can go a long way. Although, that does sometimes negate the opportunity to be blissfully ignorant and bigoted.

  • Laura KP says:

    Those of you writing the snarky comments should attend an Akron concert. It is an excellent orchestra with a growing, thriving and enthusiastic audience that is diverse by many metrics and truly appreciative of what the orchestra is offering to the community. I propose that the question you should be asking yourselves is how much you truly care about the future of symphonic music, symphony orchestras, and the musicians who do the work. As we all know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result. Akron is one of the few orchestras *not* doing the same old thing, and is reaping rewards. Food for thought, folks.

    • Matt says:

      I guess only time will tell if this type of programming brings an increase in donations from the minority communities or if it alienates long time white donors

      • Pierre says:

        One does NOT need “time” to recognize a racist, bigoted, pseudo-democratic, “communist quotas” approach to this kind of programming. Has nothing to do with a) community, b) Music, c) intelligence, d) taste.
        But everything to do ONLY WITH POLITICS! Disgusting.

        • David Blackburn says:

          You’re complaining that an American orchestra is playing new music by American composers? You’re an idiot.

    • Judy says:

      YES! It is a great orchestra. No snubbing on Maestro Wilkins either. Y’all grumpy folks need to get a grip. Stop being haters!

  • Dean says:

    The Akron Symphony is a true gem in Northeast Ohio!!!

  • drummerman says:

    Why the distinction between “composers of color” and “Black Americans?” Are they not synonymous? I’m not trying to make any political comment here; I’m genuinely curious, that’s all.

    Christopher Wilkins has a long history of conducting music by living American composers with every orchestra he has led.

    • Anon says:

      Not all people of color are Black. Indigenous people may be considered people of color, but they are not Black. Similarly, not all Black people could be termed African-American.

    • Sisko24 says:

      The distinction is to indicate that some people of ill intent will use the term ‘composers of color’ to include everyone BUT Black American composers. That is an ugly unfortunate fact of American life. In a more ‘woke’ world, there would be no distinction between anyone, White, Black, Asian, etc. But alas, we don’t live in that world…..yet. But we are getting there.

      • Michael Browne says:

        My understanding of the term ‘woke’, as a ‘pale, stale, UK male’ in his 70s, is: enlightened, empathetic, polite and kind. I think those angry men (and it’s usually men) who use ‘woke’ in a sneering manner probably do so because they can either not sympathise with the term – most likely – or not spell the definitions above!

        • Pierre says:

          Language is a living thing, sir!!! Word meanings do change. “Woke” today (2022) is something else!!

    • Cornisto says:

      Black Americans have been uniquely oppressed in the USA, plus those descendants of slaves have no idea their country of origin and so have capitalized “Black” as an identity to regain (obtain?) that which was taken from them.

      • Herbie G says:

        “Black Americans have been uniquely oppressed in the USA”?

        Really? What about the native Americans – ie, the ones they used to call ‘Red Indians’.

        • Brassfinger says:

          Native Americans were also oppressed of course. “Uniquely” obviously points to the way they got here and were brutally used as an engine to create wealth for an oppressing class of people in a way that erased where they they came from. No use wasting space here describing the equally horrible experience of the Native American but I just had to reply to the snark of the comment.

      • Pierre says:

        Learn more about oppression!! And find out what real oppression was and still is.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      ‘Of colour’? Maybe some are green, as they’re jealous of genuinely good composers.

  • anon says:

    You can all stop panicking, the season still contains Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. If anyone would like to actually look at the programming, it’s quite a lovely season, and a credit to Akron for considering an orchestra’s responsibility to highlight American and contemporary composers so intentionally and consistently. Multiple of the composers featured have connections to northeast Ohio: Julia Perry grew up in Akron and was laid to rest there, (Pulitzer Prize winning) George Walker studied at Oberlin Conservatory, and Timothy Adams and Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate studied at Cleveland Institute of Music.

    For those curious to read the programming directly:

  • Monsoon says:

    After just days ago lamenting how vicious commenters are on this website, here goes Norman again sniping at orchestras trying to diversify their programming.

    If you look at the program, it still has plenty of war horses — Mahler 3, Brahms Requiem, Brandenburg Concerto No.3, An American in Paris, etc. — and smartly mixes in contemporary compositions:

    Why do you get so bent out of shape when ensembles try to be intentional about programming music by composers other than long dead white European men?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Can you not tell the difference between justifiable criticism and personal abuse? No, of course you can’t. Your email indicates you are a teacher or student at Cornell.

      • anon says:

        Interesting that you respond to this commenter by revealing personal information about them the rest of your audience is not privy to. What was that about personal abuse you were saying?

      • Monsoon says:

        So now you’re doxing posters who criticize you?

        And what about this is a “justifiable criticism” of the Akron Symphony? Akron is a city in the United States that’s 40 percent people of color. Why shouldn’t its programming reflect the nationality of where the orchestra is based and demographics of the city? How is this really any different than a museum, for example, that seeks to highlight art by artists from its hometown, region, country?

        Do you or anyone else ever stop to think that maybe the reason American orchestras struggle to fill their halls is because many citizens have a hard time connecting with a composer who was born and died in Europe 200 year ago?

        • anon says:

          How many of those people of color will actually attend? Orchestras are now programming for people who will not attend.

          • Monsoon says:

            Probably as few as last season, but at least they’re trying.

            The solution to declining audiences isn’t more of the same.

            For all of the people dismissing contemporary, diverse programming, if the core Austro-German repertoire was as universally beloved as you think, then why is it that so many orchestras have large swathes of empty seats night after night, that long before COVID and DEI mandates, many orchestras had come close to bankruptcy, declared it, or closed? I’m old enough to remember a time when orchestras would completely sell out months ahead of a concert. The only time that seems to happen is when movie music is programmed.

          • violafan says:

            So your logic is “lets keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing for 100 years and expect different audiences to attend our concerts”


        • V.Lind says:

          I was okay with your first paragraph. Your second raises a couple of questions — the first of course being the music education/exposure one. But it also raises others. “Connect”? That’s an internet expression. The single best performance I ever attended, in a lifetime of attendance at theatre, opera, ballet, concerts, recitals, and some musical theatre and pop events, was the Houston Opera Company’s renowned Porgy and Bess. The only song I had ever heard from it was the popular arrangement of Summertime, which many singers put in what would generally be classed as popular concerts.

          This performance was so memorable that more than 30 years later I was commenting on it to a music shop owner I knew well from discussions of Tennstedt recordings and Wagner singers. He had also seen it and had a CD, and he burned me a copy even though I had just purchased another good one.

          I have no “connection” to communities like Catfish Row and know relatively few black people these days. (I had dated a man from the Caribbean in university and knew his family and friends from that community, but that seemed as remote from Catfish Row as my native Scotland).

          My “connection” was to the music and to a superb production that I can still see in my mind’s eye.

          I think black people and even Americans are capable of such responses.

          The other issue is that there are a lot of musics, and black Americans, with their unique and tragic roots, have produced more than one of their own. Musics that many white people respond to with true enthusiasm, from jazz to rap. And they should be able to spend their music time with those musics if they so choose and not be under some sort of a cloud if they prefer Duke Ellington or Smokey Robinson or even the Wu-Tang Clan to Mahler and Britten.

          How much of this woke savagery is motivated by the mathematics of seeing an ageing audience that is shrinking and the notion that by “reaching out” to the minority communities they will be able to rebuild attendance figures?

          If the wokeists were seriously interested in either classical music or minority “connections,” they would concentrate on getting classical music into schools at an early age, and lobbying broadcasters to include it in their programming. They would remember that it is classical music that is a minority interest. And they would stop trying to force the issue with anything that is not up to standard, be it compositions or artists.

          With the education will come the artists, and the composers. By all means pay attention to works that genuinely merit the term “neglected” because racial prejudice kept them from finding their place — this work should and must be “rediscovered,” and used, and if Akron has found some such, congratulations to them for leading the way, even if the first congratulations seemed to come from themselves.

          But ultimately, the only connection between a listener and a piece of music is the music itself and the ears and the hearts of those in attendance. And that is a place where there is no colour bar. Every white jazz fan knows that.

          • guest says:

            V.Lind – “Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.” (E.M. Forster)

        • Diflass says:

          They have trouble filling their halls because people today have a much different relationship to music and no ears for “classical.” Even a good chunk of the rich donor class who frequent the orchestras can’t even follow basic sonata form. Most people go for the same reason they go to a museum – to experience a well-known cultural artifact. Whenever the NY Philharmonic plays a 20th century piece, for example, a large segment of the audience just gets up and leaves. Most of them aren’t there for the art.

      • Jeff Spenner says:

        Curious here: What is the justifiable criticism being conveyed? And what does a commenter’s affiliation with Cornell have to do with anything?

      • Amos says:

        Clearly the blog is yours to do with as you wish but the title and this response are imo simply ignorant and bigoted. Taking umbrage with any American symphony orchestra for including a significant number of pieces by native composers, including people of color, without singling out those that in your estimation are unworthy of a public performance reflects poorly on a life supposedly dedicated to advancing the appreciation of classical music.

      • Cornisto says:

        You present zero justifiable criticism so by process of elimination…..

      • MacroV says:

        Norman, if you’re gonna dish it out, you gotta be able to take it.

      • David Jensen says:

        Of course Norman is partially supporting the site with ads that are one step removed from Great Replacement Theory.

  • torches and pitchforks says:

    And the commenters jump to a paroxysm of “replacement theory.”

  • Paul Barte says:

    This may be the path from wokest to brokest.

    • True North says:

      If you read comments above from people who are familiar with the orchestra and its programming, you will find that this tired old trope is not true. But do carry on with your J.S. Bach impersonations — that’s sure to bring the audiences in droves!

  • Jeff Spenner says:

    First concert includes Copland and Gershwin. Second features a Beethoven symphony. Bach and Tchaikovsky in January. Mozart and Bizet in February. The commenter above gets his Mahler (and the third no less!) in the spring, and the season closes out with Brahms Requiem. The rest of the programming looks like excited journeys into lesser known and underserved composers and repertoires. I can’t imagine how this sort of stewardship of music and community is a bad thing.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    With all these percentages, allow me to assure 100% of SD readers that the Akron Symphony will lose 25% of their subscribers which will result in a 30% reduction in box office earnings (after concessions, donations, and parking are factored in).

  • MPMcGrath says:

    More importantly: Will the audience ENJOY the evening? Or will they feel as if they’ve satisfactorily finally finished their tax return?
    I can’t remember the last time I stormed out of a concert because the evening’s or YTD averages percentages were off.
    And we wonder why people aren’t buying tickets and instead staying home, selecting a nice CD/stream and a chilled chardy. Cause Big Brother isn’t interfering with their pleasure.

  • Enrique Sanchez says:

    I am embarrassed to read some of the vitriolic criticism for this post. Civility is approaching infantilism. 🙁

  • Stephen Thomson Moore says:

    a little about C. Wilkins: he was the conductor of the Bach Society Orchestra at Harvard (where he graduated in 1978), and was an excellent oboist at that time. A white male, born 1957 – I certainly expected him to go farther and faster than he has in the conducting world.

  • Alex Klein says:

    Congratulations to Akron and Christopher Wilkins! This is the wave of the future. More inclusion, more diversity and a wider search for beauty and excellence.

    Audiences learned how to accept and admire the “second tier” and lower levels of dead white European male composers. In time they will also learn to admire and establish the proper tier for diversity-oriented music and current underrepresented composers. The more, the merrier.


    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Dead white males wrote the best music. It’s the most profound and appealing repertoire. Fact. Deal with it.

  • WILLIAM says:

    Firstly, it’s funny how right wingers and conservatives think that calling someone “woke” is an insult. You’d think after several years they’d realize this is ineffective, but apparently not. The opposite of woke is sleep or dead.

    Secondly, I think it’s mighty refreshing to have an orchestra be transparent in their artistic programming process. I often look at orchestra and opera seasons and think “what is this all about…how exactly did they arrive at this?” It seems Akron is taking their work to broaden their audiences and repertoire seriously. I applaud them for that. And for their honesty in how they are looking at their artistic programming.
    Finally, What exactly is your problem Norman? You are full of the snark, but lacking in actual commentary and critical thinking and dialogue. If you have an opinion, express it. It’s not that hard to do. But be clear in what your opinion is and why you have it.

    Change is inevitable. The country is changing, the demographics are changing, music is changing, orchestras are changing. In the academic world it’s called “publish or perish” and in the arts world it’s “evolve or dissolve.” The old ways can’t continue forever. A new generation want’s music that is relevant to them, that sounds like them, and is by people who look like them. The dead white composers aren’t going anywhere, but it’s time that orchestras made room for new works, and for new voices. At one point in time that was something orchestras and our nation championed. Or are you only in favor of that when they are white voices? – How colonial of you.

    • anon says:

      Conservatives and right-wingers are not the only ones who oppose wokeness and identity politics. Moderates and many liberals do, too. Wokeness is being imposed on this country by a small minority.

    • seattlemusician says:

      Smartest comment in this thread. Thank you!

    • IP says:

      Whatever the new generation want’s, it get’s.

      • N/A says:

        It’s not about a generation getting what they want. It’s about a generation finally standing up to the discriminative traditions of past generations, and looking ahead to a more inclusive future.

    • N/A says:

      I couldn’t have said it better myself

  • Anon says:

    Last season, NSO subscribers were forced to sit through works by mediocre minority composers to hear Beethoven. Do you think that minorities came out in droves to hear their composers? No!

    This new wokeness is just virtue signaling. It is just political. It will not increase audiences at all.

    • MacroV says:

      Compared to Beethoven, George Walker and William Grant Still are admittedly mediocre, but that doesn’t mean their music isn’t worth hearing. But I was the opposite of you – I wanted to hear Walker and Still but not surrounded by Beethoven. I’d have preferred a single program with just their works, but the NSO probably assumed that wouldn’t sell.

      And yes, Black people not generally inclined toward classical music probably aren’t going to make an exception for Black composers; maybe for Black performers – but the same is true when Chinese come out in droves to hear only Lang Lang.

    • Anthony Sayer says:


  • Lilas Pastia says:

    Nice variation after 16 seasons!

  • Bless Your Hearts says:

    I feel such pity for the commenters who are so mired in their antiquated thinking and innate racism and sexism that they can’t even bother to pretend otherwise. The only silver lining here is that I am certain most of the negative posters here are old/er, and will soon enough be gone.

  • Russell Grant says:

    If wokeism’s purpose was intended to obliterate Western Civilization, it has succeeded in Akron. This schedule will alienate those who would have come for Beethoven. Those who would not have come even for Beethoven will not attend, either. I expect an audience of 0. Good job, Akron. Aces.

    • Brassfinger says:

      Your conception of Western Culture is a sad old dinosaur. You should awake to the fact that those whom you call woke are the leading edge of the culture at this moment. You just can’t see it.

  • Brian says:

    How often do German orchestras play music by German composers in any given season?

  • Alex says:

    What may be the problem with this program?
    Can a music director be allowed do their job the way they think is correct? Especially when the board seems to be backing it all up?

  • Dan says:

    This dishonest reactionary scaremongering is ridiculous. You can find the full season here,

    Let’s start with the season – every concert on the season has “oldies but goodies” to keep traditional audiences happy. Its easy to clutch your pearls due to some clickbait – but the facts are important. Christopher Storey – I’ve heard remarks like yours – indeed, some pieces are forgotten because they are without merit.

    But just as many are forgotten because of the “old” identity politics – casual racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, etc. (c.f. Mendelssohn, Kreutzer, etc…)

    And there are plenty of mediocre white men in the canon (and some unlistenable late 20th century music by the same demographic) who likely benefited from these old systems of oppression. Why not mix it up again – try some 21st century music by composers of color, or great like Florence Price and William Grant Still who were never canonized due to the pervasive racism in the United States ? Some effort to right historical wrongs seems like the bare minimum we can do in the age of mass incarceration, police violence, etc..

    Why would the biases afflicting society at the time be absent from publishing houses, concert halls, etc, when so many of the early sponsors of classical music were those with money and power in colonial/imperial Europe?

    No one is asking you to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but the Akron symphony should be commended for taking some risks. Expecting instant gratification for these very modest programming changes (I see plenty of Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Copland, Britten, Ellington, Respighi, Bach, Bottesini) is puerile – promoting composers/performers from black America is the right thing to do.

    If we want to have an adult conversation about political correctness and the boundary between the arts and social justice, Mr. Lebrecht, than by all means do so, but don’t mislead your audience with scaremongering “critical race theory is coming for our children” schlock. There’s enough good music to go around.

    Why don’t we save our critical energy for some of the persistent bigotry and under-representation we tolerate in the world of classical music… ?

    Let us work to move the needle on representation in the classical performing hall and repertoire far enough towards fairness

  • M2N2K says:

    What is for me the most tragic and actually evil part in all of this is that as long as we keep continuing such highly divisive practices as counting percentages based on skin color and/or “race”, the problem of racist attitudes cannot possibly go away and is only likely to get worse. The only percentage that is of interest to me as a musician is how much of music that is being programmed is worthy of being performed and heard more than once.

  • Katherine says:

    As a working orchestral musician (millenial) whom has performed with this fine orchestra, among many others…I proclaim not only my support, but gratitude to their musical revolution. The donors of yesterday will live on with thanks, but in order for my fellow colleagues and me to continue working, we need the support of our contemporaries. I’ve grown increasingly disheartened with each coming year having performed to barely half full concert halls. I knew something needed to be done to make classical music relevant in this time period. This is tip of the iceberg; but it is a commendable start on the journey to our living future. We need to represent more than the classics, to mix them as ASO has with contemporary works, as well as those by persons of color, one a woman. I’ve been proud to perform for those who have awakened as if from decades of slumber. I hope I continue to perform more works of this nature, and with hope, some by all the forgotten late female composers. The other orchestras I perform with are beginning to follow the trend of what Christopher and his team have sprouted.To those who comment with a bit of trepidation, superstition, and habitation…see you in the seats for a new experience of love, life, and art.

  • SMDH says:

    “Whaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!! I want every orchestra concert to begin with an opera overture (Rossini!), then a warhorse piano or violin concerto and a romantic period symphony or else I’m not attending!” “Beethoven or bust!”

    -Slipped Disc

  • IP says:

    I am not sure whether it is the best marketing decision but — good luck!

  • N/A says:

    Yet another awfully worded headline and intro from you Norman. Why does diversity offend you so much? I worry for you. We should be celebrating the huge array of different music and musicians on show! Right?

  • Kevin says:

    Many here obviously aren’t orchestra patrons at all, but rather obedient Fox-bots whose search engines caught wind of the article title. Even smaller-minded: talking a shot at a city! Please go….your therapist is calling…

  • just saying says:

    They probably programmed each of these “groundbreaking” new works right alongside a Beethoven or Tchaikovsky work. Very brave programming.

  • Miv Tucker says:

    “Now it’s fiesta time in Akron, Ohio /
    But it’s back to old Guadalajara I’m longing to go…”
    Tom Lehrer, Old Mexico

  • Gerald says:

    I believe if the orchestra’s announcement had emphasized its “adventuresome programming” rather than a statistical breakdown of race and national origin we wouldn’t all have our panties in a bunch.

  • Ralphie says:

    Akron Symphony doesn’t have a programming issue. The Akron Symphony has an ass-in-seat issue. There is nothing more demoralizing than attending a concert and seeing 48% to 65% house. If I had to guess, the over-programming of living American composers of color, or black, while clearly virtue signaling, is more a result of much needed grant money, as the orchestra is most likely on financial life support. When I go to the Louvre, I want to see Gogan, Monet or Géricault, not Norman Rockwell or political graffiti from Compton or the Bronx. Akron is not the same town it was fifty years ago. I miss the ‘big-rubber’ robber barons, you know, the executive and middle management classes that funded and regularly attended symphony concerts. They’re long gone, and so is the money. The programming while bold and risky, is also a pivot for symphonic survival in a hostile world, where every form of media and streaming content sucks the oxygen out of live orchestral concerts. One day, the symphony leadership looked around and realized the city of Akron left them decades ago. Maybe the Akron Symphony should do the same; restructure and relocate to where they are appreciated and supported?

  • JW says:

    Your post is so unhelpful, Norman. Akron, Ohio has always done a wonderful job of outreach to the community. The Symphony and the Tuesday Musical Club provided free or very cheap tickets to students, giving them access to world-famous musicians. They featured new and innovative compositions. They collaborated with the local university music conservatory to extend opportunities to the best students. Akron brought the Cleveland Orchestra down to a large venue for all the elementary school students in the entire region to enjoy every year. Akron sits at the heart of Northeastern Ohio, a very active region of activity and love for all eras and styles of music. What you dismiss with distain is actually another instance of Akron’s attempts to keep concert music an exciting, stimulating experience. People who insult Akron because of its industrial roots don’t understand all the cultural good that the money from industry did for NE Ohio. Snobbery never leads to an intelligent discussion.