Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Renee' Baker: 'I thank you for your integrity regarding this situation with the presentation of the Florence Price Symphony with hiphop artists.'

Renee' Baker

Renee' Baker writes about the Chicago Sinfonietta:

I thank you for your integrity regarding this situation with the presentation of the Florence Price Symphony with hiphop artists. I  will not attempt to steer the conversation but I am of the opinion that this episode is a  pimple:..The real issue as you’ve all stated is the disrespect that has become apparent. Dr Freeman was certainly a champion of collaborative works and always done in good taste. We are in a time where the destruction of an institution that promoted genuinely the inclusion of people of color in all aspects is being destroyed. The pimple is sad, but even sadder is the comment that “our audience is dumb and they don’t know good music” has been said in my presence more than once during the last 9 years. This is the real issue..an administration that has lost the passion...an adminstration that has systematically dismantled the original mission. They’ve even gone so far as to say that Dr. Freeman NEVER intended for the orchestra to always be headed by a minority..Then the party line became, “Well, she is a minority..” See where this is going.. The firestorm needs to be about an organization duping the public, funders, patrons and intimidating all that dare speak up.  Please know that the Chicago Sinfonietta and many fine musicians within changed my life..previous board interactions brought the organization to new heights, all while recognizing that Dr. Paul Freeman “had a dream”. The current state of affairs is an organization driven by fear, lack of knowledge and simmering disdain for all things “colored”....Dr Freeman’s dream was that the doors would open globally as a result of his stellar example of inclusion. I am proud to say that many of the African American players seated in the Chicago Sinfonietta joined during my time with the orchestra. Dr Freeman surrounded himself always with others who believed the mission..Now, with no real leader, the orchestra will struggle with identity as the original mission is only being paid lip service to. Inside the “Nation’s most diverse orchestra” is an aura that minority presence is tolerated, not celebrated. In this Obama era, many musicians and staff members have expressed that the culture of racism within the structure is pervasive. There are many reasons for this, but funders and corporations need to give a close hard look at what was and what is..My opinions are my own ....

Bravo for catching a symptom of the illness that deteriorates the mission, but closer examination of the entire structure of an institution that is tremendously important to our history is what will save Dr. Paul Freeman’s legacy and allow it to proliferate..It can happen. When one speaks up, there often are consequences. That fact didn’t stop Dr. King, Medgar Evers, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Paul Freeman....your character and comments are subject to assassination..No matter..please keep making the public aware, with love for the Chicago Sinfonietta’s future, that we will support the continuation of the dream but will call the nonsense what it is.....carry on, torch bearers of truth....

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