Society diversity

THE SCOOP | Music society sparks outrage over letter critical of diversity in classical music

The Twitterverse was in turmoil this week after a US-based composer (Spencer Arias) shared a letter he received from an alleged organization called “Society for the Preservation of Western Music” (SPWM).

The tweet included the caption “Tell me again classical music is not #racist”.

The letter identified him as “a respected voice in our quest for integrity” and invited him to contribute to a new monthly online periodical.

It’s not until the letter outlines their mission statement that it starts to get weird.

The letter alludes that the new release is in response to “…the virulent spread of identity-based concert programming.”

He goes on to state that they seek to “actively promote the canonical masterpieces of the Western classical tradition from antiquity to the present day”.

See the full letter [HERE]

Twitter was quick to identify the letter as blatantly racist.

The identity of the author is a mystery…

…everything we know is that it was sent on behalf of a group of over 100 Canadian and American composition and theory faculty members who describe themselves as “…strong advocates of the foundations of our traditionally Western artistic practices”.

With little to say other than the name of the organization, a web search for the name turns up nothing.

Troll maybe?

A few comments on Twitter suggested the letter is far too outrageous to be real. Some have suggested it was sent by an internet troll seeking to harass and/or provoke an angry reaction.

According to Ben Liberatore, a doctoral student at Columbia University, most of the recipients were BIPOC, gay men and/or women.

“It seems most of the musicians and musicologists who have gotten this are BIPOC, queer, and/or female, which makes this particular variation on the ‘death of the West’ despair not only in its viciousness and fragility, but also through targeted harassment.”

poetic justice

Someone registered the spwesternmusic.com domain and redirected it to www.andwewereheard.organ organization dedicated to giving a platform to underrepresented composers.

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Michael Vincent
Latest articles by Michel Vincent (see everything)
Michael Vincent
Latest articles by Michel Vincent (see everything)