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WQXR podcasts explore African Americans in classical music

In a two-part podcast from Classical 105.9 FM WQXR, host and former Morehouse professor Terrance McKnight examines the African-American experience and the lack of diversity in today’s classical music world.  Currently, African Americans make up less than three percent of the musicians in U.S. orchestras.  Those numbers aren’t significantly different when it comes to the country’s opera companies or chamber music ensembles.  
The first installment of the podcast looks at the ways African-American artists from different disciplines (opera, orchestral, and chamber) handle the challenges facing them.  Joining McKnight on the first podcast are Anthony McGill, principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera; bass Morris Robinson, who regularly sings at such prestigious houses as the Met, Los Angeles Opera, and Atlanta Opera; and Kelly Hall-Tompkins, a violinist who performs with several groups, including the Mark O’Connor String Quartet.  
In the second installment, McKnight speaks with prominent decision-makers and experts in the classical music business; they discuss why there are so few black musicians in the field, where the barriers lie, and what steps are being taken to change matters.  Helping to add different perspectives in answering these provocative questions are guests Alison Scott-Williams, the Associate Vice President for Diversity and Campus Life at Juilliard; Ed Yim, the director of artistic planning at New York City Opera; and Mark Kent, the Senior Director of Education and Community Engagement at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, where he oversees the Talent Development Program. The discussion covers a range of topics, including the necessity for diversity to be an institutional mandate from the top leadership of an organization, the role of family support in encouraging students to go into classical music, and the need for young people of color to experience classical music as a genre that is not culturally specific and belongs to them.
Both podcast segments are available for download and streaming at
Part one, “Black Classical Musicians Rewriting the Odds”:
Part two, “Confronting the System”:
All Ears with Terrance McKnight:
Saturdays from 10pm-midnight on WQXR and
New York Public Radio is New York’s premier public radio franchise, comprising WQXR, WNYC-FM, WNYC-AM, and The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, as well as,, and www.thegreenespace.orgClassical 105.9 FM WQXR is New York City’s sole 24-hour classical music station, presenting new and landmark classical recordings as well as live concerts from the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and other New York City venues, immersing listeners in the city’s rich musical life.  As America’s most listened-to AM/FM news and talk public radio stations, reaching 1.1 million listeners every week, WNYC extends New York City’s cultural riches to the entire country on-air and online, and presents the best national offerings from networks National Public Radio, Public Radio International, American Public Media, and the British Broadcasting Company.  In addition to its audio content, WQXR and WNYC produce content for live, radio, and web audiences from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the stations’ street-level multipurpose, multiplatform broadcast studio and performance space.  For more information about New York Public Radio, visit

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