400% increase in works performed by women and minorities

400% increase in works performed by women and minorities


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2022

A report by the US Institute for Composer Diversity shows a huge increase over six years of works by underperformed sectors.

Specifically, works by women composers and composers of color (living and deceased) rose by 400%, increasing overall from 4.5% in 2015 to 22.5% in 2022.

Works by women composers of color increased by 1425%, from 0.4% in 2015 to 6.1% in 2022.

Works by living women composers of color increased by 1050%, from 0.4% in 2015 to 4.6% in 2022.

Full report here.


  • Come on now... says:

    Glad that you’re celebrating this too Norman!

    It is superb to see the increased diversity in programming, but just in case anyone starts kicking up a fuss that it’s all about wokeness and destroying the classical establishment – please note that this still equates to less than a quarter of all US programmes!

    • V.Lind says:

      From what I would assume is considerably less than a quarter of all US composers.

      The issues as to WHY there are fewer composers and other classical artists) of colour and why there were fewer women falls into another field of study altogether.

      Is it just here, where we concentrate on it as an interest, or is it actually out in society that this distinctly minority interest — classical music — is taking much more than its share of woke-driven attacks?

      • Erin Gold says:

        “The issues as to WHY there are fewer composers and other classical artists) of colour and why there were fewer women falls into another field of study altogether.”

        It does need much more research behind it for definite, but one of the ways the classical industry is trying to encourage more ethnically diverse and women composers is by showcasing works by these people, as well as broadening audiences and showing that this artform is for everyone.

        It’s not a “woke-attack”, it’s a long-term strategy being taken by classical music managers, music and artistic directors to make sure that these artforms continue to be resilient and accessible for future generations.

        I’ve seen some commentators talk anecdotally about how everyone would say classical music was dying in the 70s, 80s and 90s and it’s still here today, but the reason it is here is because huge amounts of work was being done behind-the-scenes to encourage new audiences. This is just the next iteration of that work, it is designed to keep the core repertoire canon alive, bring new and exciting repertoire into existence and destroy what we all agree is a myth that classical music is only for the white and wealthy.

        • Tonino says:

          As expected, the most reasonable, rational, fact-based and well-argued comment on this thread is the one that generates the least likes or replies. SlippedDisc readers never fail to disappoint. I’d not been on this blog for months and I see nothing has changed. Between the petty, odious readers, and the editor that got a book pulped for shoddy journalism, it really is best to stay away. Bye.

  • aleph says:

    Increase in quantity by 400%.

    Offset by decrease in quality by 400%.

    So it’s even.

    • PFmus says:

      Nonsense. Women composing today as every bit as indifferent as the men.

    • seattlemusician says:

      Never come back to the concert hall. You’re no longer welcome here.

    • guest says:

      Even by SD standards, that is a disgusting comment.

    • Althea Talbot-Howard says:

      If you are going to make comments like that, you should declare yourself.

      To make such a remark anonymously is pretty much the last word in cowardice.

      • aleph says:

        I’ve declared myself quite clearly. Where do you stand?

        Do you like it, the link above to the Seattle Symphony’s performance of “Baby got back”, in what “Sir Mix-A-Lot” himself referred to as “Orchestral Movement in the Hood”?

        The video got 11 million hits and counting. Is that what you count is progress in the classical music world?

        Empowering enough for you as a feminist who wants to have women’s voices heard in the concert hall? Then you should have no problems with setting his text to your music. It’s quite on par with Agnus Dei:

        I like big butts and I cannot lie
        You other brothers can’t deny
        That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
        And a round thing in your face
        You get sprung

        But that butt you got makes me, me so horny

        Take the average black man and ask him that
        She gotta pack much back
        So, fellas (yeah) fellas (yeah)
        Has your girlfriend got the butt? (Hell yeah)
        Tell ’em to shake it (shake it) shake it (shake it)
        Shake that healthy butt

        I like ’em round, and big

        I wanna get ya home
        And ugh, double-up, ugh, ugh
        I ain’t talkin’ bout Playboy
        ‘Cause silicone parts are made for toys
        I want ’em real thick and juicy
        So find that juicy double

        Knock-kneed bimbos walkin’ like hoes
        You can have them bimbos
        I’ll keep my women like Flo Jo

        ‘Cause them punks like to hit it and quit it
        And I’d rather stay and play
        ‘Cause I’m long, and I’m strong
        And I’m down to get the friction on
        Yeah, baby, when it comes to females
        Cosmo ain’t got nothin’ to do with my selection
        Thirty-six, twenty-four, thirty-six
        Ha ha, only if she’s 5’3

        My anaconda don’t want none
        Unless you’ve got buns, hun
        You can do side bends or sit-ups
        But please don’t lose that butt

        So ladies, if the butt is round
        And you want a triple X throwdown
        Dial 1-900-MIXALOT
        And kick them nasty thoughts
        Baby got back
        Baby got back

        • guest says:

          @Aleph. A hiphop hit song (from 1992) in praise of larger-scale women, and attacking the super-thin stereotype of the model industry and the excesses of the cosmetic surgery industry. What makes you so pruriently uptight? And anyway it has nothing to do with the quality of classical music by women and minority composers. Your original comment asserts that everything they compose is ipso facto bad: that is racist and misogynistic and nonsense.

      • Anon says:

        Why Althea? I’ve seen you demand real names on here before.
        Is it so you can out them, get them fired, and scare others who don’t share your opinions into silence?

    • Joseph A Marino says:

      Shame on you. I would imagine the quality of these comments would increase if you stopped commenting and keep your sexist and sexist-baiting comments to yourself. SHAME.

  • MMcGrath says:

    Good. Great quant analysis. What’s the quant for impact on audience size, demographics, recording and touring contracts. Were there opportunity costs incurred for challenging audiences with the new approach? Qualitatively speaking, what was the satisfaction rating versus previous repertoire and musical staff – in the short-term bit also keeping tabs on long-term trends. A night out on the town with music is less about wokeness or education and more about entertainment and quality of the overall experIence. What are managements’ thoughts about adding in the new while still 1) retaining current audiences and 2) being able to keep the lights on?

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    The pieces have been programmed because they have been composed by people “of colour” or women or because the pieces pieces are good?

    • Joseph A Marino says:

      My guess is both.
      Your implication is that it is not.

      • FrauGeigerin says:

        My implication is that if all these works were worth a performance by their own merit, nobody would be telling us that they are by women and non-white (whatever that means) composers.

      • Novagerio says:

        Marino, just who are you to shame bash people – twice, in the same thread?

  • Norabide Guziak says:

    Ooh gah. Not surprising if you only promote one particular group.

  • geoff says:

    I look forward to hearing the new work by the young Austro-germanic composer L v Beethoven.

  • fflambeau says:

    I am not sure about concert halls but I know programming at classical music stations has changed during this time period. A good example is YourClassical that provides programming at many stations.

  • innocent bystander says:

    Who wants to make a bet that this research does not account for the length of a work, and that these works by women and minorities are single movement and take up at most a few minutes of a 2 hour concert of standard orchestra rep?

  • Mayflower says:

    I’ve seen this increase myself in my church choir programming. Some of the music great, some not so much. It’s a wash.

    • Emil says:

      Indeed. But then we’ve been singing some dreadful stuff by white men for a while to as part of standard repertoire, along the masterpieces and other solid core repertoire.
      We can’t expect unanimous excellence by underrepresented groups while extending indulgence to the dominant group. They will succeed and fail, like any other composers (if given the opportunities to do so, of course).

  • Parsifan says:

    And most of them are masterpieces, I presume.

    • guest says:

      You presume? So you haven’t actually listened to them? What arrogant prejudice. Are all the regularly programmed works by your canonic dead male white composers ‘masterpieces’, I wonder?