Coda: Rethinking Music History
By Naomi André
Naomi André is one of today’s most compelling thinkers on music, tackling the intersection of opera, gender, and race through her musicology research, teaching, and writing. As the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the Seattle Opera, she advises staff and leadership about race and gender in opera; participates in panel discussions and podcasts; and contributes program essays. Here, she speaks about her love for the symphonic tradition, building and educating future audiences, and creating communities of color onstage, backstage, and in administration.
As somebody who thinks about the nineteenth century, I like to juxtapose the two monumental genres: the symphony and the opera. I teach courses about both and though I have very few music majors, I love opening up these works to students in the liberal arts as well as engineers and folks in the business school. In my History of the Symphony class, we focus on Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, sonata form, and the wonderful canonic pieces that were written for orchestra. I want these students to care about hearing complete symphonies, and to feel invested in the history as well as in new works. I want them to see the energy and the excitement—that’s important when you’re teaching about a tradition from the past that is seen by many today as elitist.Naomi André