Talking about bias

We posted the following to our private Facebook group this morning, and would like to share it here, as well. Bear in mind that all comments are moderated, and only constructive, thoughtful perspectives will be posted. But that said, we would love to hear from you. Let’s just talk.

This thinkpiece comes on the heels of last weekend’s inspiring and musically moving program by the LA Master Chorale, and curated by pianist Lara Downes, who is a renowned musician, influencer and advocate for Black composers. “I Believe: Music of Bach, Bonds and Robles” featured Downes’ fairly modern and very personal interpretation of keyboard music by the legendary Johann Sebastian Bach, a world premiere by our own Zanaida Robles, and long-neglected works by Margaret Bonds. The overall effect was profound, and showed how much audiences have been missing.

This article seems to beg some of the same questions as that program, and both deserve serious attention: have you felt bias in your own career, and have you examined where your own bias lies? In order to overcome the strictures and habits that keep down so many valuable artists in our sector, all of us must consider these issues. Knowing that this is a hotbutton issue and that I’m opening a can of worms, I encourage you to politely share your views here. Please tell us about your experience with bias in classical music (from others, witnessed, or your own) and keep your comments and reactions constructive. Hostility will not be tolerated here. Let’s just talk. Here’s one perspective:

Can they play Bach? Why bias in classical music must be dismantled.

— The Fulcrum, by Rochelle Sennet, 3/18/24

Thank you for participating in these valuable discussions, whether it’s here, in person or within our Facebook community!

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