Letter to the

Boston Civic Symphony community

June 21, 2020

Dear Friends,

Like most symphony orchestras, the Boston Civic Symphony reflects a heritage of white European cultural privilege. That history has long been the province of white men, whether as composers, conductors, or players. Black and Brown people are often essentially absent from the ranks of classical music. Certainly not because they lack talent — indeed, some of the world’s greatest musicians are people of color. Instead, we believe that it is because classical music institutions have been a part of systemic and historic racism that affects so many aspects of life. Things that many of us take for granted, such as music education, free time to practice and rehearse, and money to buy and maintain instruments, are often simply not available to those who do not have economic and other privileges.

The Boston Civic Symphony is horrified by the completely senseless murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others. Although our impact as a classical symphony may not be very big, we believe that every organization can — and should — do what it can to overcome the effects of centuries of systemic racism. Nobody can remain TACET — we must all play our part in a symphony of inclusion, equal treatment, and opportunity. Just as we celebrate the rich diversity of instruments in our orchestra — we must celebrate the diversity in our society, and treat everyone equally. This begins by listening to each other, especially to our Black and Brown colleagues and friends.

But listening is not enough. We must also give voice to those who have historically not been heard. So today we are making a commitment that each year we will feature a Black soloist or perform at least one piece by a Black composer. We will also increase our outreach to the Black community to come play with us and to attend our concerts. And we will actively look to expand the diversity of our board. These things are just a start, and we will continuously consider what more we can do. Although the path to equality is long and hard, we remain committed to it.

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