Wednesday 5 October 2022

Equality & Diversity in Global Repertoire: Orchestras Season 2021-2022

Equality & Diversity in Global Repertoire: Orchestras Season 2021-2022

Donne, Women in Music
has just released Equality & Diversity in Global Repertoire: Orchestras Season 2021-2022, a report looking at composers' works scheduled or the 2021–2022 season by 111 orchestras across 31 countries. Founded by soprano Gabriella Di Laccio, Donne, Women in Music is a charitable foundation that celebrates, amplifies and promotes women in music. The organisation produced a similar report last year and this year's results represent a marginal improvement. But the figures are still pretty depressing.

Of the 20,400 compositions lined up for performance in the 2021-22 season, 87.7% were written by white men, and only 7.7% by women, most of them white (5.5%). The dominance of music by white men is still so overwhelming that almost one third (27.5%) of all pieces scheduled globally for the 2021-2022 season were by 10 white, historical and well-known European men. Their pieces have been performed nearly four times more than all women combined. 

People who are Black, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage and indigenous to the global south have been referred to as “ethnic minorities” but they represent around 80% of the world’s population, and they are, in fact, global majority. However, only 2.1% of the scheduled works for the 2021/2022 season were written by global majority women composers and 4.5% of the works by global majority men composers.

Tchaikovsky - in the top three most performed composers, after Beethoven and Mozart - was played roughly as often as all Black composers combined. 

The report is available for download on their website [PDF]

Other tools that the foundation makes available include The Big List, a database of works by women composers that includes over 5,000 names and has a variety of search options. They also have free multimedia resources

A partnership with Scala Radio UK means that in 2021, 30 women composers were introduced to listeners for the first time, and in January 2022 they launched the first ever radio station dedicated to women composers. They have five albums featuring music just by women, 85 works by women have been recorded, 10 new commissions by women have been funded, and young women composers are mentored for free.

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