NY Times disputes Lucerne’s diversity

NY Times disputes Lucerne’s diversity


norman lebrecht

August 14, 2022

The Lucerne Festival, richest on earth, has taken diversity as its theme this summer.

One newspaper has its doubts.

....the festival’s efforts have been met with skepticism by some artists, audience members and commentators, who see the drive as mere publicity and say it will do little to address systemic disparities in the industry. And others say the festival’s focus should be on art, not social problems.
“This kind of P.R. may alienate the natural audiences of this festival,” said Rodrigo Carrizo Couto, a freelance journalist based in Switzerland. “Why are we doing this? Why are we following some sort of California agenda?”

Read here.




  • E Rand says:

    Will this madness ever stop, or will it continue until Western arts are all a smoldering ruin, diversified to the point of complete and total cultural irrelevancy? We’ll be left with rappers conducting all BIPOC, trans orchestras who begin every concert with lengthy land acknowledgments and apologia for daring to include one work of Beethoven per season (with any lyrics rewritten, of course, to reflect woke sensibilities), and no one in the audience. (Spoiler alert- the New York Slimes still won’t be satisfied).

    • soavemusica says:

      I am guilty of being a heterosexual white male Christian, but the Social Justice Warriors need not worry, I have gone to voluntary exile, and will not be attending the Woke Festivities.

      The offers of the New Woke Times get more and more desperate, now just a penny to read an article. Sorry, that’s too much, even if they occasionally tried to return to journalism.

      Now the diverse New York welcomes tourists back, too. Well, I’m not interested in getting stabbed, robbed, and paying 30 dollars for a sandwich & 10 dollars for a cup of coffee, so…Keep on waiting.

  • Bone says:

    Excellent article from NYT. Can’t say I disagree.

  • Serge says:

    Sweet, sweet paywall. Reading articles like this is like watching the aftermath of a traffic accident; even if you don’t want to look, you still do.

  • CarlD says:

    It’s as if whoever posted this didn’t read the article. It’s simply reporting on the predictable debate over program attempts at including new composers. Interesting article and the NYT should get some credit for this kind of reporting, which involves sending a staffer on a pricey assignment.

  • Tamino says:

    that NYT article… almost every other sentence based on a false premise/straw man argument.
    Very confused.

    Solving the problems of constructed racial divides through art is like solving world hunger by promoting eating more cake.

  • Guest says:

    Until NYTimes classical music department practices what it preaches, we should simply laugh when they try to lecture us on “diversity”. At the moment they are less “diverse” than the Vienna Philharmonic.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Perfectly put. It is thus with all those preaching and virtue signalling to us. They need to be ignored at best.

    • Kaf says:

      It depends on whether White Latinos count as “diversity”.

      (It depends also on who counts as Latino: Arrau? Argerich? Barenboim? CARLOS Kleiber? Dudamel?)

      So it is that Javier C. Hernández, the reporter writing this article, is one of 4 main writers in the NYT classical music department, the others contributing most bylines being the Woolfe, Barone, Allen (indeed recently Hernández has written more articles than the other 3 combined, and an all expense paid assignment to Lucerne is nothing to yawn at).

      So that puts diversity at the NYT classical music department at 25%, which is more diverse than the Vienna Philharmonic.

      Just counting.

  • lone voice says:

    The effort of the festival is useful and needed. Racism and xenophobia are notable problems in Switzerland. As the article notes, diversity should not simply be a one-off, faddish festival theme; change comes through consistent, long-term inclusion.


  • Aged Listener says:

    The article in question does not ‘dispute’ anything. It’s not an opinion piece. It simply reports, rather blandly, what the Lucerne Festival thinks it’s doing and reports that some find it controversial. Whether the report is entirely accurate or fair, I cannot judge. But I can’t see that either the author of the article or NYTimes has taken a position pro or con. It might have been better if it had.

  • Guest99 says:

    The SD headine must refer to another article, not the one for which a link is provided. The linked article is about debate *within Switzerland* over the efficacy of the festival, and it reports the differing points of view fairly and dispassionately.

  • Piston1 says:

    Indeed: if Javier Hernandez, the NYT’s hatchet-man-in-residence for classical music, is something other than the descendant of white European-settler South Americans, now would be the time for us to know it.

  • TP says:

    Coming from a paper (NY Times) where almost all (or all?) of it’s music writing/editorial staff are white men?

  • M McAlpine says:

    Diversity has become big business for people with little talent.

  • just saying says:

    “California agenda”….hahaha love it

    • Kaf says:

      Any single corner of California — from the Silicone Valley to Hollywood, from the Central Valley of produce to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of wine, from any single one of the University of California campuses and their Nobel Prize winners — produces more cultural and economic value than 3 Switzerlands put together.

      Switzerland needs more of the California agenda.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    The Lucerne Festival does not have an online concert achive. It’s one of the few major festivals that does not have it. Salzburg has it, so do the Proms.

  • Even more TiredOfItAll says:

    Sorry why are you all getting het up about this? This is not a diminishment of quality, but instead programming that celebrates of artists and composers of color at one of the most important festivals in the world.

    I challenge you to name one artist at this year’s festival who isn’t worthy of a spot there (and justify your answer).

    The programme is both interesting and exciting and I think Haefliger has done an exceptional job.

    If your only concern is that you don’t see the need to have initiatives like this, then frankly you just don’t understand the problem. The more we can normalize the idea of having black performers on stage, the more opportunities will open up to them and the less unconscious bias and blatant racism we will have in the industry.

    You could take the time to learn about the problems and the rationale behind these decisions, or stick to your narrowminded views and continue shouting at the sea.