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Report On Orchestral Repertoire Demonstrates Staggering Gender and Racial Inequities

By Sara Schabas on June 17, 2024

The UK organization Donne, Women in Music released a report on repertoire programmed by 111 orchestras in 30 countries. The findings demonstrate a widespread, staggering lack of diversity in the composers programmed by orchestras worldwide.

What’s up: Earlier this month, the UK organization Donne, Women in Music, released a report entitled Equality and Diversity in Global Repertoire. The report surveyed the repertoire of 111 orchestras across 30 countries over the 2023-2024 season. Led by Elizabeth Hardman and Gabriella Di Laccio, the report analyzed 16,327 compositions. It found that 7.5% of works were composed by women, of which the majority were white. White men composed 89.3% of scheduled works.

What it means: Study leader Gabriella Di Laccio described the reports as a call to action for the classical music industry. In 2024, classical music organizations have no excuse not to program the countless masterful works by racialized, non-binary or female composers. The study also names the orchestral world’s most and least inclusive programmers and details which composers are most performed.

Do we want classical music to reflect the multicultural, vibrant world in which we live? Or are we content for it to remain a vestige of the colonialist, patriarchal world of the past? These are the questions Donne, Women in Music’s important study evokes. Let’s hope the right people are asking them.

Sara Schabas
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