Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kalamazoo Gazette: 'Black musicians face misconceptions, KSO Conductor Says'

[Raymond Harvey, Music Director and Conductor, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra]
Kalamazoo Gazette
Sunday, February 15, 2009
BY WILLIAM R. WOOD KALAMAZOO -- “Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra conductor Raymond Harvey felt ambivalent about discussing how race has affected his career in classical music. But, as a black man in a leadership field where black faces are scarce, he was willing to talk about the topic to help others who might glean useful advice or information. He longs for the day when such discussions won't be necessary and he focuses on living a life that exemplifies that hope, he said.

'One would hope America has grown up,' he said during a recent interview in the symphony offices in downtown Kalamazoo. But racial stereotypes, assumptions and fears persist, and there are those who erroneously believe that if you have a black person as head of an orchestra, that suddenly your programming and audience will change, he said. Harvey, 54, who has been conductor and music director of the KSO for 10 years and is also conductor of the El Paso Opera in Texas, has sought variety in programming as well as diversity on the KSO board. But those moves had more to do with his personal tastes and approach than his race, he said. Some people believe a black conductor can automatically attract a larger black audience -- another erroneous assumption, he said.” [Full Post] Maestro Raymond Harvey's website is: 

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