New Report Reveals Significant Increase in Works by Women and Composers of Color Performed by U.S. Orchestras

A new report from the Institute for Composer Diversityproduced in partnership with the League of American Orchestras, confirms an increase in works by women and composers of color on stage.

The 2022 Orchestral Repertoire Report examines the programming of composers of color and living composers by American orchestras this season as well as longitudinal programming trends from 2015 through the current 2021-22 season. Data was collected directly from season announcements and websites of medium and larger budget orchestras (League budget groups 1-5).

Key findings include:

  • Works by female composers and composers of color (living and deceased) increased by 400%, rising overall from 4.5% in 2015 to 22.5% in 2022
  • Works by living composers nearly doubled from 11.7% to 21.8%
  • Works by female composers of color increased by 1425%, from 0.4% in 2015 to 6.1% in 2022
  • Works by female composers of living color increased by 1050%, from 0.4% in 2015 to 4.6% in 2022
  • Changes in Diverse Programming Occurred in All Measured Orchestra Budget Groups and All Geographic Regions
  • Among the most scheduled composers of color and women composers for the 2021-2022 season are Lili Boulanger; Anna Clyn; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Duke Ellington; Gabriela Lena Frank; Jessie Montgomery; Florence Prize; Joseph Bologna, Knight of Saint-Georges; and William Grant Still, among others

“Our field is immensely stronger through diversity and inclusiveness, both on and off stage, and I’m thrilled that this important new report gives us evidence of orchestras’ increasingly diverse programming, as well as hope for the future,” said League of American President and Orchestras CEO Simon Woods. “We look forward to continuing to support our members through this new partnership with the Institute of Composer Diversity to report trends each year as we advance in our field.”

“While there is certainly more work to be done to provide audiences with access to a wide diversity of musical voices, many orchestras across the United States have made intentional changes to their programming in recent years and I hope these changes encourage others at the professional, college and K-12 levels to do the same,” said Rob Deemer, Director and Founder of the Institute for Composer Diversity. “We are excited about this new partnership with the League of American Orchestras and extremely grateful for the support we have received from the Sphinx Organization and look forward to expanding and expanding our research in this area.”

Read the full report.

The League offers a number of opportunities to help member orchestras absorb the results, starting with We Are What We Play: Orchestral Repertoire in 2022 and Beyond, a session that took place in person in early June at the National Conference of the League in Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA.

That of the League Catalyst Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Resource Center provides many resources to help orchestras maintain momentum by further diversifying programming; several SU programs and offerings also support orchestras by helping them develop more inclusive organizational cultures and diverse memberships. These include the Catalyst Incubator Grant Program, addressing organizational culture using models from the technology industry; the National Alliance for Hearing Support; webinars; and a series of guides, including Promising Practices: Steps Orchestras Can Take Towards Equity; Advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion in orchestras; How Orchestra Councils Can Advance Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; and Racial Equity – What is anti-racism and why is it important for orchestras?with additional resources to be released this summer.

The League’s new partnership with the Institute for Composer Diversity continues into the 2022-23 season with an extension of scope to include lower budget orchestras and to create a longer trendline dating back to 2010.

The 2022 Orchestra Repertoire Report was produced by the Institute for Composer Diversity at the State University of New York at Fredonia in partnership with the League of American Orchestras and with the generous support of the Sphinx Organization Venture Fund. The report was authored by Dr. Rob Deemer, ICD Director and Professor, State University of New York at Fredonia, and Dr. Cory Meals, ICD Data Analysis Manager and Associate Professor, University of Houston, with assistance from Humay Gasimzadeh, Ariel Magno da Costa, and Jessica Sisti.

The Institute for Composers’ Diversity strives to encourage the discovery, study, and performance of music written by composers from historically excluded groups. They do this to positively impact three important groups: the audiences and students who interact with the music, the conductors, performers and educators who serve to bring that music to those audiences and students, and the composers. themselves. The Institute achieves these goals through the creation of databases, analytical studies and best practices. Founded in 2019, the Institute for Composer Diversity is based at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

The League of American Orchestras directs, supports and champions American orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 1,800 organizations and individuals across North America spans the gamut from world-renowned orchestras to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from companies serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. A national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a hub of knowledge and innovation, advocacy and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, the award-winning Symphony magazine, its website and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League connects a nationwide network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers and business partners. Visit americanorchestras.org.

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