The Twitterverse has been in an uproar this week after a US-based composer (Spencer Arias) shared a letter he received from an alleged organization called, “Society for the Preservation of Western Music” (SPWM).
The tweet included the caption, “Tell me again that classical music isn’t #racist”.
The letter identified him as “a respected voice in our pursuit of integrity,” and invited him to collaborate on a new monthly online periodical.
It’s not until the letter outlines their mission statement, that it starts to get strange.
The letter alludes that the new publication is in response to “…the virulent spread of identity-based concert programming.”
It goes on to state they are looking to “actively promote canonical masterworks of the Western Classical tradition from antiquity to the present day.”
See the full letter [HERE]
Twitter was quick to identify the letter as blatantly racist.
The identity of the author is a mystery…
…All we know is that it was sent on behalf of a group of over 100 Canadian and American composition and theory faculty members who describe themselves as “…staunch advocates for the foundations of our traditionally Western artistic practices.”
With little to go on other than the name of the organization, a web search for the name turns up nothing.
A few Twitter comments have suggested that the letter is far too outrageous to be real. Some suggested it was sent from an internet troll looking to harass and/or provoke an angry response.
According to Ben Liberatore, a PhD student at Columbia University, most of the recipients were BIPOC, queer, and/or women.
“Seems most of the musicians & musicologists who got this are BIPOC, queer, and/or women, which makes this particular variation on the unhinged ‘death of the West’ whinge not just desperate in its meanness and fragility, but targeted harassment, too.”
Someone has registered the spwesternmusic.com domain and redirected it to www.andwewereheard.org, an organization dedicated to giving underrepresented composers a platform.
Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.