Black Orchestral Network Sparks Industry Reform From Harlem To Hawaii

January 22, 2024

The Black Orchestral Network (BON), a collective dedicated to fostering inclusion and equity for Black orchestral musicians.

Is leading a movement for change within the classical music sphere, launching its annual National Day of Solidarity on Monday, January 29, 2024. This powerful day serves as a resounding appeal for the equitable treatment and inclusion of Black orchestral musicians, resonating across the industry and beyond.

At the heart of this movement is the newly released, poignant “Dear American Orchestras, Part II,” an open letter demanding transparency and equity in the tenure process. This rallying cry addresses long-standing barriers to inclusion and champions fair practices for Black musicians, emphasizing the urgent need for action in orchestral spaces. The letter outlines ten actionable steps to reform the tenure process within American orchestras. View the open letter in its entirety here, “Dear American Orchestras, Part II.”

“Our National Day of Solidarity represents a united front demanding equity and transparency within orchestral ensembles. It’s a collective effort to bring about essential change and recognition for Black orchestral musicians who have long been undervalued and excluded,” says Weston Sprott, BON Co-Founder and Steering Committee member. “Dear American Orchestras [I and II] not only offer a blueprint for progress but also stand as crucial historical records, capturing the sentiments and collective experiences of Black musicians in orchestras—it’s a representation of generations past and present.”

Additionally, BON introduces its membership drive, inviting individuals and organizations to contribute to this important cause through membership or institutional support. Embracing individual members free of charge, with a suggested donation of $20, BON offers a platform for active involvement in shaping the future of orchestral music. Membership unlocks access to exclusive community conversations, professional development opportunities, and the chance to amplify the voices of Black orchestral musicians.

Institutional supporters, committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, stand to gain visibility through job postings and event promotions while aligning with a movement committed to reshaping classical music’s landscape.

“By joining BON, you’re not just championing change; you’re amplifying stories and perspectives that enrich the very fabric of orchestral music,” says Lexi Holloway, BON Steering Committee member.

The impact of BON’s previous Day of Solidarity and the release of the “Dear American Orchestras” letter in May 2022 signified a critical turning point. Thousands joined the call, urging American orchestras to honor moral and artistic commitments by fostering spaces where Black musicians can thrive. This momentous event laid the foundation for BON’s ongoing mission, actively shaping the narrative and instigating change within the classical music industry.

Join BON’s Advocacy Initiatives

On January 29, 2024, supporters are encouraged to post the BON Day of Solidarity graphic to their social media platforms, driving the urgent message of inclusion and equity within American orchestras.

Artists, audience members, educators, music lovers, culture bearers, and enthusiasts are invited to co-sign the “Dear American Orchestras, Part II” open letter by adding their names to the list of Black orchestral musicians and supporters calling on American orchestras for change.

Co-sign the letter here.

Consider becoming a member and actively contributing to BON’s mission, and explore donation opportunities to support the cause.

The Black Orchestral Network

The Black Orchestral Network (BON) is a collective dedicated to creating an inclusive and equitable environment for Black people in the orchestral field. BON is a necessary vehicle for securing a future where Black classical artists are connected and form a rich, expressive, and culturally affirming network.

Connection within the Black orchestral community is vital to their sense of belonging and well-being. The understanding and improvement of our experience is critical not only to our future but also to the future of orchestral music as a practice and the music industry as a whole.

Photo credit: BON Steering Committee (top left to right) David Norville, Emilio Carlo, Shea Scruggs, Joseph Matthews, and Alex Laing (bottom left to right) Titus Underwood, Lexi Holloway, Jen Arnold, and Weston Sprott_Photo Credit_TITILAYO AYANGADE.

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