Diversity Front and Center at the Menuhin Competition

May 23, 2021, 12:53 PM · "The Danger of a Single Story is not that it’s not true, but that it’s not complete."

That is a quote from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and it was also the topic of a rich and wide-ranging panel discussion dedicated to diversity and inclusion in classical music, hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond and given as a part of the Menuhin Competition 2021 last Friday (see more about the panel discussion below).

The previous evening, the Menuhin Competition also hosted a concert by The Sphinx Virtuosi, whose mission is to advance diversity in classical music by presenting varied programs of works by composers of color alongside well-known masterpieces. You can watch their absolutely stellar program here:

PROGRAM:

Piazzolla - Fuga y misterio (1:46)

Dvorák - Finale from String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96, “American” (8:14)

Andrea Casarrubios - SEVEN for solo cello (14:22)

Xavier Foley - For Justice and Peace (23:44)

Michael Abels - Delights & Dances (34:16)

* * *

The background to the panel discussion "The Danger of a Single Story: The Importance of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Arts" is well-known: the classical music industry remains predominantly white and Asian, and the Black Lives Matter movement has rekindled the quest for a more diversified space. For over a year, diversity and equity in the classical scene has been the topic of articles in the New York Times, and in behind the scenes board-room discussions of major orchestras.

The video of "The Danger of Single Story" panel discussion can be found here:

The discussion was facilitated by Dr. Ronald Crutcher, University of Richmond President, and featured the following contributors:

Here are some highlights of the discussion:

Aaron Dworkin’s final words were a perfect summary of the event: "The hope is that advocacy work is not a necessity. The hope is that we will be celebrating the diversity that exists rather than fighting so that diversity can exist."

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