Orchestrating a Better Future
Few activities are as central to orchestras as auditions for musicians. “Blind” auditions, in which musicians perform behind a screen to shield their identity, were instituted in the 1970s to redress the longstanding exclusion of people of color and women from orchestras. While blind auditions were successful in some regards, particularly in increasing the proportion of women musicians at orchestras, the percentage of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) musicians has not risen significantly over time. Earlier this year, the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS), a collaboration of the League of American Orchestras, the Sphinx Organization, and the New World Symphony, recommended new audition and tenure guidelines to address the inequity of processes for people of color to gain permanent employment in American orchestras. The guidelines suggest new ways to approach the audition process to create more diverse, equitable American orchestras; NAAS acknowledges that any changes to current practice suggested in these guidelines are subject to collective bargaining.