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NY Times Chief Classical Music Critic: End “blind auditions,” pick orchestra musicians based on race and gender

NY Times Chief Classical Music Critic: End “blind auditions,” pick orchestra musicians based on race and gender

Ending “blind auditions” hurts people who otherwise would have been chosen based on the quality of their music, or in other contexts, their academic performance on standardized tests and other objective measurements. “Equity” is not a victimless crime.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOjHhS5MtvA

I learned something new today.

For decades leading symphony orchestras have used “blind auditions” to hire musicians. That is, the musicians are not seen at all, only their music is heard. That way, implicit or explicit racial, ethnic, or gender bias cannot enter into the hiring decision, only the quality of the music. It is as close to a pure meritocracy as I can imagine.

So far, so good, right? Judging people based on the content and character of their musical performance rather than the color of their skin? Right?

But, that pure meritocracy has resulted in fewer Blacks and women on orchestras relative to the population as a whole. That result is not a product of bias, because the race or ethnicity or gender of the musicians were not known.

We see this in many aspects of society, an over- or under-representation of racial or ethnic groups, or men or women, in various jobs or sectors of the economy. But at least as to orchestras, bias cannot be claimed to be a factor.

So it’s still good, right? Because equal opportunity is what is most important. We don’t call the NBA racist because Blacks are over-represented, because we understand that it is not the result of racial bias.

Not according to Anthony Tommasini, the chief classical music critic at the NY Times. Tommasini writes that the lack of orchestral diversity resulting from this meritocracy needs to change, and musicians should be chosen based on race, gender, and other factors.

Tommasini starts by noting the history of blind auditions in his column, To Make Orchestras More Diverse, End Blind Auditions:

During the tumultuous summer of 1969, two Black musicians accused the New York Philharmonic of discrimination. Earl Madison, a cellist, and J. Arthur Davis, a bassist, said they had been rejected for positions because of their race.

The city’s Commission on Human Rights decided against the musicians, but found that aspects of the orchestra’s hiring system, especially regarding substitute and extra players, functioned as an old boys’ network and were discriminatory. The ruling helped prod American orchestras, finally, to try and deal with the biases that had kept them overwhelmingly white and male. The Philharmonic, and many other ensembles, began to hold auditions behind a screen, so that factors like race and gender wouldn’t influence strictly musical appraisals.

Blind auditions, as they became known, proved transformative.

Transformative, but not enough:

The percentage of women in orchestras, which hovered under 6 percent in 1970, grew. Today, women make up a third of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and they are half the New York Philharmonic. Blind auditions changed the face of American orchestras.

But not enough.

American orchestras remain among the nation’s least racially diverse institutions, especially in regard to Black and Latino artists. In a 2014 study, only 1.8 percent of the players in top ensembles were Black; just 2.5 percent were Latino. At the time of the Philharmonic’s 1969 discrimination case, it had one Black player, the first it ever hired: Sanford Allen, a violinist. Today, in a city that is a quarter Black, just one out of 106 full-time players is Black: Anthony McGill, the principal clarinet.

So Tommasini wants quotas. He doesn’t use that word, but that’s what he wants. There are so many qualified musicians, he argues, remove the screen and pick an orchestras that looks like the community:

If the musicians onstage are going to better reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, the audition process has to be altered to take into fuller account artists’ backgrounds and experiences. Removing the screen is a crucial step.

Blind auditions are based on an appealing premise of pure meritocracy: An orchestra should be built from the very best players, period. But ask anyone in the field, and you’ll learn that over the past century of increasingly professionalized training, there has come to be remarkably little difference between players at the top tier….

It’s like an elite college facing a sea of applicants with straight A’s and perfect test scores. Such a school can move past those marks, embrace diversity as a social virtue and assemble a freshman class that advances other values along with academic achievement.

On campus, this is called “equity,” a euphemism for racial, gender and other discrimination. It’s the opposite of equal opportunity, it’s demanding equal results even if it means discriminating against some people on the basis of race, ethnicity or other immutable factors. It’s the core driving the “antiracism” movement on campus. When campus activists and administrators say “equity” (as opposed to “equality”), what they really mean is discrimination based on race to achieve a desired racial outcome.

The desire to move away from “blind auditions” hurts people who otherwise would have been chosen based on the quality of their music, or in other contexts, their academic performance on standardized tests and other objective measurements. “Equity” is not a victimless crime, it’s just that the victims don’t have the political and social justice power to stop it.

[Featured Image: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, via YouTube]

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Comments

They should only play the works of the great black composers.

    MTED in reply to Uncledave. | July 19, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    Like Kanye West and Beyonce.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Uncledave. | July 19, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    Albert Amons, Edward K. Ellington, William Strayhorn, William Basie, Nathan Cole… why not?

    DaveGinOly in reply to Uncledave. | July 20, 2020 at 12:49 am

    I was going to say if they want to play in the tradition of Western European music and its descendant forms, they should expect to be held to western standards.

    If they want to have opportunities to play music based on their race, they can play jazz (of which I am a huge fan), in which endeavor there has been a long-standing appreciation (held largely by black players, but supported by many white players) that black musicians are superior.

    hvlee in reply to Uncledave. | July 21, 2020 at 9:20 am

    I’m not capable of judging “great” but as a longtime classical music listener, there are some who are certainly capable: Still, Dawson, Price and more, whose recordings are now being played.

    silver surfer in reply to Uncledave. | July 21, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    I’m sure this decision will go something like this….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpJ6anurfuw

      GatorGuy in reply to silver surfer. | July 21, 2020 at 7:48 pm

      Hilarious. Having played (only) 3rd trumpet, (but) 1st chair in my junior high school concert orchestra, I know when things can go wrong, but not THAT wrong!

      Maybe things won’t be so bad; however, I’ll add this: Watch for the number of males not to increase.

      Equity forever! (Not.)

The Friendly Grizzly | July 19, 2020 at 9:10 pm

The New York Times. Wasn’t that a newspaper?

“I learned something new today.”

As did I. What a great concept. Which is why it must go.

    Morning Sunshine in reply to Barry. | July 19, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    That is how my jr high band determined the order of the “chairs” – if you wanted to move up a in your section (flute in my case), you had to challenge the chair ahead of you. Our teacher (on my top 10 list of teachers in my public school career) would have us go into the supply room, flip a coin to see who would play first, and we both played the same selection. He would listen and decide who got the higher chair.

    I only did this once; mostly I was content with last chair (less practicing required). But I did challenge someone I thought was even more of a slacker than I was. I think I lost… I am not sure.

      The orchestra discriminates against guitar players. Miserable buggers.

        The Friendly Grizzly in reply to MrE. | July 20, 2020 at 7:16 am

        I applied to sit firsts chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic when I was younger. For reasons unknown, they passed me over, even though I was fully qualified on Theramin.

      That’s pretty neat. I’m not musically inclined (understatement alert) but I made sure my children were. One of them played in the marching band at UNC. I don’t recall how they were graded but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t blind.

        kyrrat in reply to Barry. | July 20, 2020 at 6:47 pm

        In Texas at least the High School level music competitions (for choral music) compete blind. The TMEA does the behind the curtain competition thing (sort of like the Voice) as does the UIL. TPSMEA does recorded vocal submissions. They build the All-State Choirs from those blind competitions.

rabid wombat | July 19, 2020 at 9:14 pm

A recent power source was discovered…MLK spinning in his grave….

Gender: masculine and feminine (i.e. sex-correlated attributes)? Or sex: male and female? Does he intend to exclude individuals in the transgender spectrum? How very politically congruent (“=”). Diversity dogma breeds adversity, and we should be wary of anyone normalizing denying individual dignity, denying individual conscience, affirmative discrimination, color blocs, color quotas and exclusion.

That said, affirmative discrimination is evidence that diversity dogmas is being followed, or affirmative action has spectacularly failed in a progressive cascade.

It’s all Cultural Appropration, a heinous crime. Only Russian musicians should be permitted to play Prokofiev or Mussorgsky, only Italians should be let anywhere near Scarlatti or Verdi, and only Poles . . . or French . . . should dare to play Chopin. And white guys of English descent get exclusive rights to Purcell and Elgar. Handel? Well, let the English and Germans fight that one out. And they’ll all have to play anything which isn’t French, Italian or German by banging sticks on gourds, because most of our modern instruments are, well, French, Italian or German.

Once let in the door, the madness never stops. Not without a purge, anyway.

The soft racism of low expectations.

Blacks and other minority groups just can’t be expected to win on merit, so they need quotas.

Thus ensuring that no black or minority can ever believe they actually achieved something based solely on skill.

What could be more calculated to demoralize?

What could be more calculated to keep blacks and other minorities a permanent underclass dependent on democrat/leftist largess.

    Barry in reply to Wisewerds. | July 20, 2020 at 12:13 am

    “Thus ensuring that no black or minority can ever believe they actually achieved something based solely on skill.”

    Perhaps worse, those of us not in a minority assume they were given their positions.

To maximize diversity, I would recommend deaf auditions.

    alaskabob in reply to Petrushka. | July 19, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    Better still… just a lottery within each intersectional group for the allowed number. Since the Left thinks any success is just “winning in life’s lottery”… make it so.

    n.n in reply to Petrushka. | July 20, 2020 at 2:49 am

    To maximize diversity invite the racists, sexists, genderists, transphobes/homos, Marxists, Progressives, feminists, abortionists, etc. All the sects of the Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic religion (or its relativistic cousin “ethics”).

    GatorGuy in reply to Petrushka. | July 21, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    Excellent point! When you’re good, you’re good, Petrush.

    Regarded and done the old fashion way, you would likely hear, “Hire that individual as the new Diversity Director!”

    Keep those cards and letters, ie, obstacles to social equity, comin’!

Achievement through merit…what a concept.

BierceAmbrose | July 19, 2020 at 10:23 pm

Past n “systemic” injustices get redressed on the backs of people. “Society” doesn’t make reparations, they’re extracted from individuals.

There’s some symmerty in “society” extracting from some, redress for what it inflicted on others. But, they’re both out groups, already down or they wouldn’t be ripe for picking on.

In practice, it looks a lot more like retribution than reparations, or even redress.

I am all in on this. In the American Cultural Revolution the “artistic community” has tended to be one of the most bloodthirsty of the Red Guard.

Let them experience cancel culture first-hand. It won’t make them wiser, but maybe it will make them sadder. And doesn’t everyone want to listen the Affirmative Action Orchestra?

Striving for mediocrity!

The next step is to enforce mediocrity, so nobody’s performance rises above the ordinary. Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron was supposed to be fiction.

Anthony Tommasini, the chief classical music critic at the NY Times, should be fired, immediately. He obviously hates music, musicians, and excellence. He is not fit to review masterful work

Dantzig93101 | July 19, 2020 at 10:56 pm

“ask anyone in the field, and you’ll learn that over the past century of increasingly professionalized training, there has come to be remarkably little difference between players at the top tier…”

If that’s true, then blind auditions should work just fine. A black transgender Muslim with a Spanish surname has just as much chance as anyone else. Their music is “little different.”

Of course, the writer is peddling nonsense, and unless he’s an idiot, he knows it. That “little difference” is what separates a world-class anything from someone who is merely pretty good. He wants to recruit inferior musicians to fill racial quotas.

Another thing: Who said that “musicians should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve”? Nobody cares about that except people writing for leftist rags like The New York Times. Even if it were true, an orchestra serves a community of paying ticket holders who are overwhelmingly not “diverse.”

    DaveGinOly in reply to Dantzig93101. | July 20, 2020 at 1:04 am

    “Another thing: Who said that ‘musicians should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve’?”

    This is the false unstated major premise of his entire argument. No orchestra anywhere, ever, was built to “reflect the diversity of the community.” Orchestras have been built to provide the community with exposure to music (of whatever genre), played by the best musicians they could engage. If that seems too “Western European” to a musician, maybe that musician shouldn’t be aspiring to play western European music. Although I think they’d be disappointed to learn that excellence is the standard by which every musical culture rates its players. There has never been a band called “The Mediocrities.”

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Dantzig93101. | July 20, 2020 at 6:12 am

    Even if it were true, an orchestra serves a community of paying ticket holders who are overwhelmingly not “diverse.”

    Then, concert tickets need to be declared a “right”, and paid for by the makers, so the takers can attend concerts they wouldn’t attend in the first place.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Dantzig93101. | July 20, 2020 at 10:35 am

    I once knew a professional orchestral musician who was trying to make it to the top tier symphonies. SHE told me what was holding her back was the quality of her violin and was told by people in the top tier that if she acquired a better instrument, she could likely make it. The problem was that such a violin cost around $180,000 and she could not afford it working on the second tier circuit. I knew about the blind auditions but thought there was a problem in the story in that if the judges could hear the technique and tell the differential in the performance was due to the quality of the instrument, why require the instrument before being hired? She said her lacking to take the dive on the instrument was, to the judges, a sign of a lack of commitment to the profession. If you want to be in the big league, then get a big league instrument. She said not only were these instruments very expensive, they were also very hard to come by, and you basically had to wait for someone who already had one to either retire or die to even get a chance to acquire one. She also said that at this level blind auditions were not blind because the judges could tell who you were just by the way you played and could identify your instrument, even if someone else played it, but she never complained about a “good old boys’ club,” or anything of the sort.

      drednicolson in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | July 20, 2020 at 11:28 am

      And the practice needed to break-in your muscle memory to the new instrument, after years and years of playing the old one, could take just as long as acquiring it.

      I assume this familiarity factor is a reason why the auditions aren’t done with a ‘stock’ intrument.

      nordic_prince in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | July 20, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      That story reminds me of Rachel Barton Pine, who suffered amputation to save her violin from getting destroyed in public transit:

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Barton_Pine

      The audition committee will try to focus on other factors than just the instrument, knowing that many of the best players are young conservatory graduates at their technical peak but certainly not at their financial peak. Plenty to work with – rhythm, intonation, phrasing. A student got in the the NY Phil with a $16k fiddle some years ago.

      A player good enough to get into one of the “big five” (Chicago, NY, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland) should have enough connections to borrow a good violin. Dealers are happy to loan a fiddle to a top player since if they win, they will be buying something. Good people are able to borrow good violins, sometimes for more than a year.

      Still, even a modern violin and bow are now a $30k to $50k minimum commitment if you want to play on them for an audition at the big five.

      ConradCA in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | July 20, 2020 at 6:04 pm

      Why couldn’t she borrow a quality instrument for her audition?

These people fiddle while Rome burns.

Whose fault is it anyway there is not enough diversity among them?

Same for Hollywood. Talk a great game, lecture others on how to live, but look the other way at what happens in their own circles.

The last people others should listen to or follow.

“Sure our orchestra sounds like a high-school band, but we’re really diverse in every single category, and they all have weekly mandatory diversity training.”

“Do they practice?”

“What’s that?”

Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” seems appropriate in this case.

http://www.tnellen.com/westside/harrison.pdf

It’s covert activity by the New York Times to decrease the quality of orchestras everywhere.

I’ve been to the philharmonic twice, most music I consume is from headphones or loudspeakers. I don’t really care how they look but I do want it to sound good. Will this ‘critic’ get the Trader Joe’s trophy now?

Don’t kid yourselves – there is REAL money involved. For example, the concert master of the San Francisco Symphony makes 500K. The first chair oboe player makes $350,000 per year.

Where blind auditions DON’T occur is for conductor slots. As the front man, he is chosen for marketing reasons as much as musical talent or style. A conductor of a top tier orchestra witha healthy endowment and open pockets trustees can gross over a million a year.

Think the San Francisco Symphony wouldn’t prefer a flaming gay or a lesbian as conductor, considering their market?

During my student experience playing trumpet/cornet in the 4th and 5th grades, we had blind tests playing in pairs behind the curtains
on the stage for the orchestra seated in the pit in front. The teacher picked the winner in each pair. I went from last chair to first chair in that system, despite not being allowed to practice at home, and not having any friends in the orchestra. We were not diverse, as the schools were still segregated in SE Texas at the time. Old memories. Seems a good practice to me, just musicians based on the sounds they produce, not their visual appearance, or external ideological impositions.

The Drill SGT | July 20, 2020 at 1:58 am

“American orchestras remain among the nation’s least racially diverse institutions,”

I note the NY Knicks have a roster with 16 black men and one white guy. Where are the Puerto Ricans, the Chinese and the Jews? Let’s make the Knicks reflect the community…

Chose them by lottery at the YMCA.

oh, and they need a transman as well

Race, sex, gender, and clothing (e.g. inclusive of trans-socials/transvestites). Also, black hair, brown eyes, over 20, under 5 feet. Why so Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, politically congruent (“=”)? Lose your religion.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | July 20, 2020 at 2:48 am

Fyi

As Violent Crime In New York Soars, De Blasio Assigns 27 Cops To Protect ‘Black Lives Matter’ Mural

Zero Hedge

You can get the best to be the best, or pick by other reasons and be mediocre, your choice.

It seems that the only thing that BLM is accomplishing, is more racism.

    rscalzo in reply to boulder. | July 20, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Don’t forget the violent threats…

      Brave Sir Robbin in reply to rscalzo. | July 21, 2020 at 11:26 am

      We are living a Monty Python film:

      Reg: They bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had. And not just from us! From our fathers, and from our father’s fathers.
      Loretta: And from our father’s father’s fathers.
      Reg: Yeah.
      Loretta: And from our father’s father’s father’s fathers.
      Reg: Yeah, all right Stan, don’t delay with the point. And what have they ever given us in return?
      Revolutionary I: The aqueduct?
      Reg: What?
      Revolutionary I: The aqueduct.
      Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah, they did give us that, ah, that’s true, yeah.
      Revolutionary II: And the sanitation.
      Loretta: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.
      Reg: Yeah, all right, I’ll grant you the aqueduct and sanitation, the two things the Romans have done.
      Matthias: And the roads.
      Reg: Oh, yeah, obviously the roads. I mean the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads…
      Revolutionary III: Irrigation.
      Revolutionary I: Medicine.
      Revolutionary IV: Education.
      Reg: Yeah, yeah, all right, fair enough.
      Revolutionary V: And the wine.
      All revolutionaries except Reg: Oh, yeah! Right!
      Rogers: Yeah! Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.
      Revolutionary VI: Public bathes.
      Loretta: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.
      Rogers: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it; they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.
      All revolutionaries except Reg: Hahaha…all right…
      Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
      Revolutionary I: Brought peace?
      Reg: Oh, peace! Shut up

segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever
– the left has been denoting the worth of people
– by the color of their skins for a long time

The Smithsonian put out a list of “evil” white traits last week that blacks should avoid, you know, like working hard to achieve goals.

The NY Times critic is an idiot, regardless of whatever color he is.

Keep the blind auditions.

Let’s institute blind job and college applications.

“equity” is not any kind of crime.

Moon Battery | July 20, 2020 at 8:18 am

I didn’t realize musical talent was linked to the race and gender gene. Who knew….

Seriously though, If that’s your criteria for picking musicians, I can’t imagine your orchestra is any good.

Isn’t this a subtle form of racism and sexism but assuming those folks couldn’t be picked on talent alone?

Well, if it is in The New York Times it must be correct. When I have to have Cardiac Surgery or Neurosurgery I will choose which Physician I utilize based solely on race and gender. What could go wrong?

It took 90 years after the Civil War for Brown v. Board of Education to end “separate but equal.” It took about 100 years for the last vestiges of Jim Crow to end with passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — with Republicans providing the victory, not senators such as Richard Russell (Senate building named in his honor), and Robert Byrd (every stationary object in WVa named for him. It took less than 50 years for blacks to begin arguing for separate schools, separate housing, separate justice systems, and race-based decisions in education, employment, the arts, and athletics involving sports where blacks weren’t the overwhelming majority of players. Now this. When Trump says “Make America Great Again,” he’s accused of wanting to take the nation back to the 50s. Why then do the Democratic Party and its sycophantic media uncritically and enthusiastically embrace these mental gyrations?

The blunt truth is that most blacks can not compete on the basis of objective standards. As Harvard admitted, blacks would constitute one percent of admissions not the twelve percent admitted if the same standards were applied across the board.

The Drill SGT | July 20, 2020 at 10:13 am

“The blunt truth is that most blacks can not compete on the basis of objective standards.”

They can in the areas they work at. Your point is that academics is not high on the list. Shooting hoops is.

For decades, Blacks and other minorities claimed that they could not advance, not because of a lack of talent, but because they were held back by the white man based upon their appearance. So, this nation installed affirmative action, where less qualified minorities were given preference based upon their appearance. Now, after nearly 4 decades of that, these same groups are claiming that they can not gain positions through talent alone, but must have preferential treatment. They are insulting themselves and thee entire group to which they belong. Brilliant move.

texansamurai | July 20, 2020 at 11:39 am

musical talent doesn’t come in a particular color–there are really only two types: practiced or, the truly rare, naturals

music is an art form and anyone with the ability to hear can readily distinguish between a novice or a professional

in a group effort(such as an orchestra)why on earth would you impose an inferior player on others who WERE chosen for their proficiency/command of the instrument? what sort of standards could you really expect to uphold? by choosing an inferior player based on color you ultimately condemn the entire enterprise from creating something beautiful, from being something excellent and wonderful and, in that scenario(which quotas would create), not only have you harmed the the other excellent players but, ultimately, the audience themselves

in nearly all of this life, there are the best of the best(regardless of color) and there’s everyone else

Don Radlauer | July 20, 2020 at 1:51 pm

I think you got this one quite wrong. The point to remember is that an orchestra serves a social purpose – if all we want is to hear music performed well, we can save a lot of money and just buy a CD and a good stereo. Since orchestras have a purpose (nowadays) beyond simply providing pretty sounds – and are typically subsidized by governments and/or private donors as an asset to the community – it’s entirely legitimate to say that they should, at least to some degree, provide an image of “serious” music as something that is not limited to wealthy white people. If kids, in particular, see that people like them can become classical musicians, they are likely to find the music more interesting – and perhaps even discover and develop talents within themselves that they would never have otherwise known about. All- or nearly-all-white orchestras are going to be far less meaningful in cities with large non-white populations – and there’s no point in shelling out lots of money for meaningless cultural fossils.

My proposal would be to retain the blind-audition system – it has proven very effective in reducing very real, albeit often implicit, bias in auditioning musicians – but supplement it with a bit of “diversity bias”. In other words, use blind auditions to select a pool of qualified applicants (and it’s quite true that standards nowadays are such that quite a few people are likely to be at a more than adequate standard of excellence – orchestra musicians nowadays are far more competent than they were, on average, when most of the standard repertory was written), and then make final decisions among that pool of applicants with some regard to the diversity of the ensemble you’re creating.

Does this create some degree of ethical problem? Possibly, but it’s far less than the traditional ethical problem of discrimination based on sex and whose student the applicant is. And in the long run, diversity in orchestras (and other ensembles) is the only thing that may save classical music from irrelevancy and a slow death.

henrybowman | July 20, 2020 at 3:17 pm

The goal is no longer good music but social justice.

Why should we all not suffer inedible food, faulty automobile service, unintelligible customer assistance agents, incompetent emergency healthcare, unreliable communications, and hazardous water quality, in order to ensure that every large and small team that provides these products and services represents an absolutely perfect slice of the surrounding community, including all the races, sexes, ages, work ethics, fools, slackers, illegals, pedophiles, sadists, malcontents, psychotics, and especially the narcissists.

But not all the political opinions, because that would just be silly.

Our musical competitions when I was in high school were ‘blind’ – conducted behind a curtain for the judges. A proctor ushered us in and out, and announced our number for the judges (no names, either), and we were not to speak during the time we were in the room.

As a classically trained trumpet player, may I say this is #%>**#%! BLIND audition. It doesn’t get any more fair. Just admit that “fairness” is not your goal. This is cultural. Minority families do not think a career in the arts is a good choice so they don’t encourage their children. It is a brutally competitive field and you have to be a bit crazy to pursue it. The left is mental.

I’d like to see these supposedly intellectual Woke journalists take up the cause of ‘representative’ proportions with professional sports first. Clearly they don’t think that quality or merit are that important when it comes to classical music , but they do when it comes to athletics. Or is it that they are merely opposed to anything that whites—and Asians!—do better in, and they want to downgrade it.

In either case, they are the anti-intellectuals here, and should be mocked for being the yahoos they claim conservatives are. For starters, the Philharmonic and other arts organizations should stop giving out complementary tickets to “critics” who take up destructive causes like this; they are clearly enemies of good music.

    randian in reply to HarvardPhD. | July 20, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    They clearly don’t believe that about athletics, otherwise you’d never hear complaints that the New England Patriots has too many white players.

Let us hope that this is the final requiem for the NYT.

My son reminds me that the top tier orchestral pipeline does not start at the college level. It starts at 5 years old. That’s where the change needs to happen.

One of the many tragedies of the Black communities (and I cap white also, FU AP) is how they have turned their back on their rich musical heritage. Black people invented, and are the greatest players, of two of the great indigenous musical forms, Blues and Jazz. Rap/Hip-hop is a degeneration.

    randian in reply to do2me. | July 20, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    Blacks seem to reject anything they perceive as too white. The blues may have black roots, but its descendants, rock and metal, were almost entirely developed by whites. Other than Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, and Stuck Mojo where do I find black rock and metal acts? Indeed you can read black writers claiming that the blues and rock were stolen from them. Unfortunately rock died, or was murdered, after a big resurgence in the middle 2000s with bands like Evanescence and Creed.

    Blacks have always had success in pop music, and these days the music labels have made pop music synonymous with blacks.

A better idea is to encourage more black kids to go into classical music, play orchestral instruments. that way you increase the size of the pool.

    MajorWood in reply to Sally MJ. | July 21, 2020 at 2:14 am

    Sadly, the forces working against the black kids comes from the black community itself. Stray too far from everyone’s low expectations and their wrath will find you. Probably the most hated black person in Balmer was Ben Carson, because he destroyed the myth that a kid from the ghetto couldn’t succeed. It is way easier to just sit on your butt and blame whitey.

blacksburger | July 20, 2020 at 6:33 pm

I wonder how the people who demand diversity in symphony orchestras would respond to demands for diversity in jazz groups.

We know that the totalitarian Leftists/Dhimmi-crats seek equality of outcomes, not equality of opportunity. When this insane ethos slips into mission-critical disciplines (e.g., medicine; civil aviation; engineering), as opposed to more frivolous realms, such as the arts, lives will be lost, as a result.

We don’t call the NBA racist because Blacks are over-represented, because we understand that it is not the result of racial bias.

That is certainly assumed, but is it so? I’ve read interviews of NFL players who claim that many coaches display the barely hidden attitude that black players, as such, must be better players. Mostly this would affect players at the margins, the ones going for the last few roster spots.

I should believe that NBA players being 80% black can only be the result of merit, while I should also believe that the majority of head coaches being white cannot be the result of merit? Is racial skew evidence of a lack of merit only if that racial skew results in a majority white population?

Diversity, inclusion and excellence cannot be used together. Employment by quota will lessen the product.

Affirmative Action is the Ponzi scheme of ability.

I am an old American of Polish descent. Someone could teach me to play a Chello. Interchangeable with Yo Yo Ma? Never!

boo boo 2000 | July 21, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Actually, women and Asians are the majority of new hires. The trend is definitely toward female majority orchestras so if we eliminate the blind aspect of auditions they’re the ones who will lose out. I would also note that no matter what your personality or sex/race, greatness is still what garners respect in our field or derision if you suck. It just takes one person to ruin a performance.

    randian in reply to boo boo 2000. | July 21, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    That’s easy to arrange regardless of actual talent. Let’s say the woke board wants a majority female orchestra. After the audition, take say 5 candidates. Now that you know who they are, either only offer the women jobs or make the men offers you believe they’ll refuse.

LukeHandCool | July 21, 2020 at 1:05 pm

It seems pretty unfair that there are blind auditions but not deaf auditions.

How can the deaf enjoy listening to classical music being played knowing there are no members of the deaf community playing in the orchestra?

This makes me feel unsafe.

silver surfer | July 21, 2020 at 3:07 pm

I’m sure it will go just fine…here’s a preview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpJ6anurfuw

Terrific reportage, Professor. I love the climb (“not enough”) toward crescendo (“equity”).

Barry Soetoro | July 24, 2020 at 2:23 pm

So symphonic rapping is in our future?

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