Investing in music education is the only way to increase diversity at the Albany Symphony Orchestra


Albany Symphony Orchestra management’s welfare initiatives fail to address the root cause of the stated problem (“Symphony Trying to End Shortage of Black Musicians,” April 3). New York’s top orchestras are proving that blind auditions win co-workers of color top jobs. Thanks to blind auditions, the ASO has 45 women out of 70 players. Racial balance will only follow if auditions include a more diverse pool.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education states, “Across the country, approximately 6% of all students who graduate with a Bachelor of Music degree are black. (All music degrees.) Until that number increases, audition pools will remain less diverse.

We love playing with wonderful musicians from the Sphinx project, but they are already trained and on their way to great careers. We hope these talented colleagues of color land in orchestras that pay a living wage, because the average ASO musician only makes $3,000-4,000 a year.

The Convergence Project, funded by the Carl E. Touhey Foundation, could greatly expand our school music outreach programs to inspire musicians to enter our profession over the next decade. So far, that money and the limited time and energy of staff have been spent on walking tours, already successful artists of color, and promoting jazz, hip-hop, and other music. who already enjoy the support of the for-profit music industry. Our non-profit orchestra is responsible for promoting orchestral music that does not have such commercial support.

Investments that pay real dividends will not have the immediate appeal of current initiatives. However, investing in education is the only way to solve the problem.

Eric Berlin

Montague, Mass.

Principal Trumpet, ASO

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