How the PC Brigade Is Destroying Our Orchestras; British Musicians Are the Latest Group to Come under Pressure for Not Engaging with Ethnic Minorities. but It's Not Really Their Fault

The Evening Standard (London, England), October 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

How the PC Brigade Is Destroying Our Orchestras; British Musicians Are the Latest Group to Come under Pressure for Not Engaging with Ethnic Minorities. but It's Not Really Their Fault


Byline: NORMAN LEBRECHT

I WENT along to be enlightened and came away consumed with despair at the political realities which oblige arts managers to give up a working day for a preach-in on multiculturalism.

The symposium was called Cultural Diversity and the Classical Music Industry and it yammered on all day yesterday in a dreary side-room at the Royal Festival Hall, overlooking the railway cuttings. There was a sell-out attendance from just about every classical body in Britain bigger than a string quartet. This might make you think that the theme was compulsive.

Compulsory is more like it. As things stand in British arts, only an autist would dare to profess disinterest in diversity. With 7.9 per cent of the population derived from ethnic minorities and the Government sloganising away about inclusion, it would have been a brave orchestral boss who stayed away from diversity day. One manager whispered to me that his absence would surely have been "noted".

There was an ominous edge to the proceedings. The organising body, the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), had "aligned the event with the objectives of Arts Council England" - specifically with ACE's aim to make cultural diversity " central to all that it undertakes". ACE sent no fewer than 10 observers to a room holding 160. An awful lot of next year's funding must hinge on diversity compliance.

As for sell-outs, that was the fundamental premise. The ABO, representing a dwindling and dangerously uncool sector, was waving a white flag of acceptance that art must, for the time being, take second place to social engineering. Orchestras are increasingly expected to hire " audience development managers" and work with "grassroots communities" if they want to carry on playing the symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms.

The day began combatively with a speech from Lord Moser, once chairman of the Royal Opera House and now of the British Museum Development Trust. Lord Moser, 81, told the apparatchiks that orchestras "do not deserve lectures or pressures from the arts councils - what is lacking is on the other side of the coin, in the education and funding system".

The reason orchestras have so few non-white players - only two, for instance, in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the heart of the multicultural Midlands - is because music teaching has been neglected in the poorest areas. State school recruitment of music teachers was down 12 per cent last year. Most of those teaching music in secondary schools were, he said, untrained in music. Until they provide music teaching for minority children, the authorities cannot point a finger at orchestras for failing to engage nonwhites as players, staff and audiences. "Classical music will always be a minority interest," asserted Lord Moser, "but it should not be as much of a minority as it has been allowed to become in this country."

After that, it was all downhill as the diversity industry turned its rage on the orchestral craft. Professor Lola Young, head of culture at the Greater London Authority and previously-chair of ACE's diversity panel, said we must "change the look of the classical music industry". The professor, resplendent in an Africanstyle headwrap, named "George Augustus Bridgewater", the black violinist for whom Beethoven wrote his concerto, as a useful role model. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How the PC Brigade Is Destroying Our Orchestras; British Musicians Are the Latest Group to Come under Pressure for Not Engaging with Ethnic Minorities. but It's Not Really Their Fault
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.