As diversity, equity, and inclusion have increasingly come to the forefront for so many classical music organizations today, there’s a forum that has become a leading space in DEI conversations for the past five years: SphinxConnect.
A panel discussion at the 2019 Conference capped off Chorus America’s inaugural “Voices of Change” program—an effort to foster more collaboration and inclusiveness in the Philadelphia-area choral community and provide leaders with education on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Now the time has come to identify insights from this cohort that are relevant to choruses elsewhere. What might choral leaders expect when venturing into DEI discussions and attempting to build new connections in their choral communities? Voices of Change participants, facilitator Nicole Robinson, and Chorus America staff reflect on what was gained over the course of the year, as well as seeds planted that will take continued work to nurture.
Over the past several years, the leadership at ProMusica Arizona (PMAZ), a 100-member community chorale and orchestra based in Phoenix, has evolved into an all-women team. This wasn’t part of a strategic plan—artistic director and principal conductor Patti Graetz, concertmaster Meghan Ruel, executive director Yvonne Dolby, and board chair Jan Sandoz all stepped into their roles with the organization because they had specific skills to offer. But this leadership team has ushered in an exciting time of growth and collaboration—both internal and external—at PMAZ.
At Gisele Becker’s final concert as music director of Cantate Chamber Singers, she celebrated the end of her 25-year tenure in a unique way: conducting a piece side by side with music director-designate Victoria Gau. “I had requested a piece be written for my last concert that would be in part for two conductors,” said Becker. “Andrew Simpson, a very dear friend and our accompanist, wrote the piece to my husband Bert's poetry.
Aiming to foster a more welcoming and connected choral community in the city of our 2019 Conference, Chorus America has been bringing representatives of Philadelphia-area choruses together since last October for a series of workshops and online learning activities called “Voices of Change: Building a More Inclusive Choral Community.” Led by Nicole R. Robinson, a music educator and the founder of the consulting firm Cultural Connections by Design, the project is intended to support choruses in considering diversity, equity, and inclusion in their work and to explore strategies for increased communication and collaboration between different kinds of choruses.
As nonprofits evolve, what they need from their board members shifts. Some choruses reach a point where they consider bringing in people from the community to augment their own internal leaders. If you’re thinking about that, here are some factors to consider.
Since last fall, a cohort of Philadelphia-area choruses has been coming together for a series of workshops and online learning activities exploring issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their choruses and choral community.
Chorus America has announced the recipients of its 2019 awards program, recognizing a broad range of achievements in choral music, including artistic excellence, adventurous programming, innovative education programs, and lifetime service to the choral art.
Said president and CEO Catherine Dehoney, “Chorus America is thrilled to honor these exceptional choruses and choral leaders who inspire our colleagues and enrich our communities through their outstanding work.”
Our Chorus Operations Survey is the most comprehensive source of data available on choruses and the choral field. The information gathered helps choruses make better decisions about programming, budgeting, staffing, and other management practices.