In a 2016 report conducted by the League of American Orchestras, it was found fewer than 2% of musicians in American orchestras are black. This lack of representation has been prevalent in the classical music realm for a long time, however, black classical musicians are finally beginning to find a voice in their community.
One such example is Bartholomew Poyser, a community ambassador and artist-in-residence at Canada’s famed Symphony Nova Scotia, who held a concert with the Maritime Bhangra Group to illustrate the diverse styles of classical music. The concert was a huge success that lended Poyser more power and influence than he had ever held in the symphony. This was all thanks to their CEO Christopher Wilkinson who Poyser credits as “putting people of color in positions of power and trusting them with it.”
Similar efforts have been made across classical music organizations, such as the experience Tanya Charles Iveniuk had when she played in the Color of Music Virtuosi. It was the first time she had been surrounded by other black musicians in an orchestra, and this experience empowered her to start her own quartet group, the Odin Quartet, and to train as many young Black, Indigenous,and People of Color as possible.
Poyser and Iveniuk are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to empowering black classical musicians, and their experiences should serve as examples of the outcome of empowerment. Classics 4 Kids strives to uplift Black classical musicians, and is producing culturally diverse experiences in classical music education programs that stimulate creative thinking, problem-solving skills, foster greater communication skills, and facilitate active engagement.
We are committed to the following steps:
- Listening, educating and providing diverse content for the next generation of cultural audiences
- Representing more People of Color and a variety of cultures in our performances to ensure that our entire audience see themselves reflected on the stage
- Including music by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and female classical composers on every program we produce
- Highlighting talented Black, Indigenous, and People of Color musicians, composers, and artists
- Diversifying our Board of Directors and Advisory Board to more accurately reflect the community we serve
Source: Yes Magazine
-by Isaiah Crooks, C4K Intern