On Accusations of Racism in the Classical Music Industry - The Objective Standard

Ever since the anonymous Instagram account @orchestraisracist garnered widespread attention several months ago for publicly outing supposed racists in the classical music industry, musicians have been lambasted and, in several instances, banished from the industry on the basis of hearsay. Classical pianist Yuja Wang, for example, was accused via Instagram of referring to an audience member as “big mama” during a private conversation in a cab after a performance.1 She told NPR, “I have no recollection of this conversation, but language and actions that are judgmental or discriminatory against anyone are unacceptable.”2 Had she not apologized, she faced being “canceled.” . . .


1. @orchestraisracist, Instagram, July 26, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CDHe0e2gNXA/ (accessed January 14, 2021); Anastasia Tsioulcas, “Classical Music Tries to Reckon with Racism—on Social Media,” NPR, July 29, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/07/29/896200557/classical-music-tries-to-reckon-with-racism-on-social-media (accessed January 14, 2021).

2. Tsioulcas, “Classical Music Tries to Reckon with Racism—on Social Media.”

3. @orchestraisracist, Instagram, August 8, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CDpKgUmgarz/ (accessed January 26, 2021).

4. @orchestraisracist, Instagram, June 18, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CBl0c9RAXO1/ (accessed January 14, 2021).

5. @orchestraisracist, Instagram, July 1, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CCG-bUQgVQs/ (accessed January 14, 2021).

6. @orchestraisracist, Instagram, June 19, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CBmtrm4Am9x/ (accessed January 14, 2021).

7. Kevin Clarke, “Cancel Culture Reaches ‘Land Des Lächelns’ at Manhattan School of Music,” Operetta Research Center, August 25, 2020, http://operetta-research-center.org/cancel-culture-reaches-land-des-lachelns-manhattan-school-music/ (accessed January 15, 2021).

8. “Immediate Removal of Dona Vaughn from the Manhattan School of Music Faculty,” https://www.change.org/p/james-gandre-immediate-removal-of-dona-vaughn-from-the-manhattan-school-of-music-faculty (accessed January 16, 2021).

9. @orchestraisracist, Instagram, July 2, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CCJ0Zk2AHsO/ (accessed January 14, 2021); @orchestraisracist, Instagram, June 21, 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CBs3ypiA1el/ (accessed January 14, 2021).

10. Lia Pikus, “‘The Canon Is Racist’: How a Collective of Black Musicians Are Exposing Racism in the Classical Music Community,” August 18, 2020, https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/canon%C2%A0-racist-how-collective-black-musicians-are-exposing-racism-classical-music (accessed January 14, 2021).

11. Zachary Woolfe and Joshua Barone, “Musicians on How to Bring Racial Equity to Auditions,” New York Times, September 10, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/10/arts/music/diversity-orchestra-auditions.html (accessed January 14, 2021).

12. Joshua Barone, “Opera Can No Longer Ignore Its Race Problem,” New York Times, July 16, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/arts/music/opera-race-representation.html (accessed January 14, 2021).

13. Alex Ross, “Black Scholars Confront White Supremacy in Classical Music,” New Yorker, September 14, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/09/21/black-scholars-confront-white-supremacy-in-classical-music (accessed January 14, 2021).

14. Barone, “Opera Can No Longer Ignore Its Race Problem.”

15. Joshua Barone, “Orchestras Are Rushing to Add Black Composers. Will It Last?,” New York Times, October 2, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/02/arts/music/orchestra-livestreams-black-composers.html (accessed January 14, 2021).

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