With the goal of increasing diversity in American orchestras, three arts organizations have created the National Alliance for Audition Support. The three groups are the Sphinx Organization of Detroit, the New World Symphony of Miami and the League of American Orchestras, based in New York City.
Funded by a four-year, $1.8 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, along with additional financial and programmatic support from U.S. orchestras, the Alliance will work with black and Latino musicians to develop their audition skills, increase their participation in auditions and ultimately increase their representation in orchestras. To those ends, the Alliance will train musicians for auditions, pair them with mentors, showcase their work in concerts and provide them with travel stipends.
“This unprecedented collective action on the part of America’s orchestras addresses some of the main barriers to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in orchestras,” said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. “The unique and coordinated network of support is informed by research and extensive discussions with many [minority] musicians, as well as many other individuals in orchestras and higher education.” Rosen also noted that the American Federation of Musicians, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, and the Regional Orchestra Players Association also are supporting the Alliance and its efforts.
Howard Herring, president of the New World Symphony, said a secure future for classical music is “possible only if the orchestras of this country are representative of their communities. New World is committed to diversifying its fellowship with the support of our alumni, who have won positions in orchestras and ensembles around the world. We are honored now to partner with Sphinx and the League in forming this new Alliance dedicated to making equity and inclusion part of the future for American orchestras.”
In June, the New World Symphony will launch the first major Alliance project, when 18 string players will participate in a three-day intensive course to prepare them for auditions.
The Sphinx Organization, founded in 1997 with the mission of fostering diversity in music, will administer the program. “This is a critical time for all of us to act with renewed commitment and drive to help our orchestras to be more reflective of their communities and to represent perspectives and talents from [minority] musicians,” said Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of Sphinx. “We are honored to join forces with key industry leaders, humbled to receive and incorporate extensive insight directly from artists and incredibly grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for prioritizing this vital work.”
TOP: Maestro Thomas Wilkins congratulates cellist Ifetayo Ali Landing after a performance with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra. | Photo: The Sphinx Organization