Douglas Shadle on Systemic Discrimination in American Orchestras

In an article for I Care If You Listen, Vanderbilt University musicologist Douglas Shadle digs into how the lack of diversity on concert programs is built into the institutional structure of American classical music organizations. “The combined effect leads to programming stagnation. Each season becomes a game of musical chairs. Who will play what “masterwork” this year? Why are disruptions of the pattern so rare?”

[T]he underlying premise here is the false belief that greatness is a quality inherent in a piece of music, rather than a culturally conditioned designation given by someone else. This way of thinking ignores the fact that a piece can never be considered great, much less famous, if it is never performed. Recycling pieces and the phrases we use to describe them becomes a tautological exercise.

Read the full article here.

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