American orchestras remain among the nation’s least racially diverse institutions, especially in regard to Black and Latino artists. In a 2014 study, only 1.8 percent of the players in top ensembles were Black; just 2.5 percent were Latino. At the time of the Philharmonic’s 1969 discrimination case, it had one Black player, the first it ever hired: Sanford Allen, a violinist. Today, in a city that is a quarter Black, just one out of 106 full-time players is Black: Anthony McGill, the principal clarinet.So what? Musicians are hired in what are called a "blind audition". The musician plays from behind a screen, and the judges have no idea of the race, gender, ethnicity, of the musician. All the judges hear is the music. All that matters is technical skill and talent.
If the musicians onstage are going to better reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, the audition process has to be altered to take into fuller account artists’ backgrounds and experiences. Removing the screen is a crucial step.If the goal of an orchestra is to promote racial diversity, that makes sense. If the goal is to hire the very best musicians possible, this is lunacy.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.