Tuesday, May 17, 2016
By Justine. McGuire
Booming applause broke out in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts downtown Holland on Tuesday morning, May 17, but it wasn’t for a musical performance.
A crowd of more than 700 from across Michigan was giving a standing ovation to Aaron Dworkin, a keynote speaker at the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance Summit on Race and Inclusion: Inclusion in Action.
“This year, we really wanted to talk about, what happens when you remove those barriers?” said Gail Harrison, LEDA executive director. “How does your organization, institution, community change in ways that we think would be very positive?”
Dworkin has made headway in the inclusion of musicians of color in orchestras across the U.S. through a nonprofit, Sphinx Organization, that he founded in 1996. Compared to 20 years ago, the percent of black and Hispanic musicians in orchestras has doubled.
He ended his speech with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle. History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but appalling silence of the good people. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
In 2015, Dworkin was named dean of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance. The number of students of color admitted to the school has increased by 30 percent in one year, he said.
Dworkin was born to an interracial couple in the early 1970s when interracial marriage was illegal in many states. They gave him up, and he was adopted by a Jewish family, he told the audience.
Dworkin’s adoptive mother inspired him to play violin from a young age. He eventually attended the University of Michigan for a master’s degree in music. During his time at U-M, he decided to make it his mission to address the underrepresentation of black and Hispanic musicians in orchestras and symphonies, which led him to founding the Sphinx Organization.
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Totally awesome… Lots of news lately :-). Aa [Aaron P. Dworkin]