The Yale School of Music is implementing a series of initiatives in an effort to address issues of racism and diversity at the school and beyond.
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In a news release, YSM Dean Robert Blocker, along with the school’s deputy and associate deans, wrote, “The galvanizing voices of the Black Lives Matter movement raise for YSM the question of how we can be a positive force for increasing awareness and eradicating systemic racism in our nation, our communities, our institutions, and our school.”
Among the dozen proposals put forth by the school will be a partnership with historically Black colleges and universities to recruit talented postgraduates from those schools to attend Yale.
The Yale Philharmonia will work with the student orchestra committee to program more music by composers of color. The school will also celebrate Black History Month with free events, featuring music and conversations by Black composers and artists.
Blocker said the proposals are just a first step.
“It gives us a chance to really have a renewed focus and a deeper understanding of what centuries of behavior can do to a society,” said Blocker. “And I don’t think we unravel this and put it back together in one week. This is our invitation -- let’s move and let’s open the conversation and see where it takes us.”
Blocker said an important part of the effort will be redesigning the curriculum to include music from a broader perspective, a move he believes will have a ripple effect throughout the school.
“If you’re involved in a conversation with the conductor of an ensemble or chamber music, you’re going to say, ‘Look, we are talking about this music over here and how it’s crafted and it’s so beautifully done. We need to be performing some of this music.’ If you are talking about these things in class, and you’re curious, you are going to put some of those things on your program.”
The school’s Ellington Jazz Series has pledged to bring a “Black artist of national distinction to campus annually as a new Ellington Fellow,” as well as find ways the series can discuss issues of race and gender.
Beginning next month, 20 teaching artists from YSM will give music lessons to 90 students from New Haven public schools via Zoom as part of Yale’s Music in Schools Initiative.
All of the school’s proposals can be found on the YSM website.