Thursday, April 5, 2007
Well, what I have to say about diversity in orchestras is actually pretty simple. It is not possible to cultivate orchestral diversity through the audition process. It is possible to give more equal chances through blind auditions, although, when it really comes down to it, the final step in the process is never blind. Diversity can only be cultivated in education, and at this point, the gross inequality in our education system is not equipped to do so. My clarinet students at Manual Arts High School will never have the same opportunities to excel as my oboe students who attend the Brentwood Academy. The very fact that I, who have not played clarinet since the sixth grade, am their teacher, speaks volumes. There is talent in these schools, but it is not nurtured. And until the same amount of money is spent on music education at Poor Urban School as Rich Suburban School, economically disadvantaged kids will have a harder time acquiring any musical education at all, let alone reaching the level of a professional musician. It also means that vast numbers of young people will not appreciate classical music because they are not exposed to it. And incidentally, I think that the best way to interest kids in classical music is through the instruments themselves. At least there are organizations like the NEC Lab Charter School or the USC Outreach Program.