Blind Auditions – One tool to end discrimination in classical music at least

My mother is an article clipper and sharer, a practice she passed along to me.  We send articles and cartoons  to each other by postal mail regularly.  I send articles and cartoons to my kids, family and friends and leave them  on my husband’s dresser as  well.  (Yes, I send emails with links as well, but I like clipping physical articles better. I actually Keep envelopes addressed to my most frequent victims recipients near by stuffing them until full and ready to post.) It is a habit I’m cutting way back on because of the potential annoyance factor and because sending an article with interesting or informative content doesn’t mean the recipient will read or acknowledge it.)

I digressed, didn’t I?  Get to the point, Candelaria! Okay, I will.  My mother sent a gem a few months ago about the gender diversity of the musicians in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra:

A Changing tune: Women players now outnumber men in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (Sarah Bryan Miller, St. Louis Post Dispatch)

“Thanks to the blind audition, ‘Orchestras now are doing a really good job of hiring per the person’s ability to play. It rules out discrimination and ensures that the best person is hired.   It’s a really good way of leveling the playing field.” Karen Bliznik

There are 51 women  and 49 men for 2014.

“Since the mid-1970s, orchestra musicians have usually played the preliminary rounds of auditions from behind a screen, so that race and gender aren’t obvious. They walk on a long strip of carpet, so the clacking of high-heeled  shoes doesn’t give anything away.  It’s made a big difference in merit hiring.”

A related article notes that Females hold half the top management posts although there is a lot of progress to be made behind the podium.

Neither article mentions ethnic diversity but that may be because the pool of talent is so small.

Progress is a good thing.


Another thought – it is a very interesting world when the “specialist on diversity” turns out to be a white male who is not from this ‘hood.  I have some thoughts and feelings about thatin general and my encounter with this particular gentleman but not for here…yet.




About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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