Thursday, February 11, 2016
Classical music has more than one glass ceiling
Two things depress me about classical music's treatment of musicians of colour. One is that they are so seriously underrepresented. The other is that there is so little concern about that underrepresentation. Many posts have appeared On An Overgrown Path about this lamentable situation. The most recent was titled Why do we still not believe in Negro symphony conductors? It pointed out that in more than 2500 Promenade concerts in London there have been just three black conductors, giving a 0.002% minority representation. These statistics generated virtually no interest, yet alone righteous indignation. Which contrasts very sharply with the media feeding frenzy that surrounds the appointment of women conductors. And please don't accuse me of political incorrectness. The historic underrepresentation of women in classical music is also a cause for great concern. This blog was one of the first to raise this issue in a post ten years ago titled BBC Proms 2006 lacks the eternal feminine . Since then there have been numerous articles on the subject; including one about the forgotten figure of Antonia Brico who conducted the Berlin Philharmonic back in 1930. Which was fifteen years before the first black conductor took the podium at a Berlin Philharmonic concert. My congratulations go to Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla for smashing the glass ceiling at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. But the job is not finished until there is a black conductor at the Last Night of the Proms.
Montage shows Kwamé Ryan with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. Kwamé Ryan featured in a 2011 post about musicians of colour at the BBC Proms. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.