The Stubborn Classism of Classical Music (excerpted from WBUR’s <em>Cognoscenti</em> in <em>The New Republic</em>)
In all major American orchestras, only 1.8 percent of the musicians are Black, a statistic that doesn’t touch the field of talent that’s available, as there’s a much higher percentage of Black classical musicians graduating from top conservatories. And those are the ones who found a way to get there, despite racial and economic obstacles.
Twenty years ago, I got my first wake-up call to racism in my profession.
A Black piano student asked me, “Are there any Blacks in classical music?” As a white concert pianist and teacher, I remember my shock, thinking, she’s an incredibly bright student headed for Princeton. How is this even a question?
Written for a series, 43 Poems by 43 Authors in Response to COVID-19.
My brother was teaching me to drive a stick. There were plenty of dirt roads in Cheyenne, and it wasn’t hard to find one that went uphill. I just couldn’t move my left foot from the brake to the clutch fast enough to get it in gear before rolling back down the hill.
“Okay, let’s try her again.”
I often use The Shape of a Pocket by John Berger when teaching students to write essays. His exquisite prose about art fires their imaginations.
A hospital fundraiser is the scene of a chance meeting in Linda Cutting’s “What Matters”. Ailments small and large spark a lighthearted flirtation that leads a man and a woman to connect. (3:01)
A poem published in the Winter 2011/2012 issue, available in electronic and printed form.
Finalist for an Audie Award, 1997. A concert pianist describes how the sudden resurgence of repressed memories of years of sexual abuse by her father and the suicides of her two brothers destroyed her ability to remember and produce music, and her painful struggle to confront the past and regain her life.
An excerpt from Cutting’s memoir, Memory Slips.