Feeling snubbed, 2 Cobb prep choruses won’t be playing with Atlanta Symphony
by Lindsay Field
August 17, 2012 12:29 AM | 8354 views | 29 29 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo by Jeff Roffman - Courtesy of the Atlanta Symphony Orchesta
Photo by Jeff Roffman - Courtesy of the Atlanta Symphony Orchesta
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MARIETTA — Choral groups from Walton and Lassiter High school won’t be performing in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concerts this year because they aren’t “diverse” enough, the school district says. ASO, however, denies that is even a factor and says the schools were told nearly two years ago that their 2011 performances with the orchestra would be their last for awhile.

Charlie Wade, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s vice president of marketing and symphony pops, said in an email Thursday that his organization wants to open the program to other groups.

This is not the reason that Cobb Schools spokesman Jay Dillon said was given to Lassiter Choral Director Brian Williams and Walton Choral Director Dr. Jana Williams before the start of this school year.

“The schools were informed by Symphony officials that their choruses are not diverse enough, and that the Symphony would be inviting a third, more diverse chorus,” Dillon said. “Because of limited space, only a portion of the Lassiter and Walton choruses would therefore be able to attend.”

“Cobb County School District choral programs are open to all students and participation in these programs is determined on the basis of merit alone,” he said. “Because the full choruses would not be able to perform with the Symphony, both Lassiter and Walton have declined to participate this year.”

Students in both choruses were told Monday that they would not be participating this year.

However, Wade made no mention of diversity in his explanation for the change.

“The Lassiter and Walton high school choruses have done an outstanding job for the past four years, but they are only two of at least 12 very fine high school choirs in the Atlanta area,” he said.

“We think those choirs merit a chance to sing with the ASO as well.

“This year, we look forward to sharing our stage with the Grady High School chorus for the first time, and we’re delighted to continue our tradition of inviting talented amateur singers to perform with the ASO. We enjoy our partnership with Lassiter and Walton, and look forward to collaborating with them in the future.”

Wade also said that he told both choral directors almost two years ago, “after their December 2011 concert series with us … we would invite other high school choirs to sing with the ASO. The Lassiter and Walton directors thanked us for the opportunity we had afforded them and their students.”

For the past four years, only Walton and Lassiter’s choruses participated in “A Very Merry Holiday Pops,” which is part of the symphony’s Coca-Cola Holiday Concert Series held at the symphony hall in the Woodruff Arts Center, Wade said.

Throughout the two-day concert, the choruses collaborate and perform many pieces with the 93-member Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. This year’s concert is scheduled for Dec. 21 and 22.

When asked about the racial make-up of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Wade said that it is against his organization’s policy to share the race of its musicians.

Additionally, Dillon declined to comment on the racial make-up of the Walton and Lassiter choruses.

The two schools’ choral directors, along with many members of both programs’ choral booster clubs, were contacted by phone and email for a comment but none were returned by press time Thursday night.

Comments
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JohnJay
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August 18, 2012
So it sounds lke ASO gave them 2 year's notice, and some guy gives an unsubstantiated quote (that ASO denies it said) that ASO told them it was because diversity?

I suppose this is good enough reason to pile on the insults and complaints about 'political correctness'. An unsubstantiated quote against a two-year-old policy statement. Let the comments continue!
Hear ye hear ye
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August 18, 2012
All ye so called supporters of "freedom" in good old Cobb County and Marietta....the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as well as the Woodruff Arts Center are PRIVATELY supported, from PRIVATE contributors. As such, these organizations have every right to prescribe EXACTLY what schools / choral groups that will accompany the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra...and for whatever reasons they decide on. So boo hoo....poor deprived East Cobbers don't get their way about everything.

Let me tell you...in this case, your rights start and end with your own pocketbooks....you want to demand who plays with ASO, then become a large contributor to ASO and / or Woodruff Arts Center, otherwise please stop telling the people who've funded the ASO how to run their organization.
FormerLHSChorus
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August 18, 2012
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra did not need to justify their decision by stating that Lassiter and Walton were not diverse enough. Diversity should not have been a factor in their decision AT ALL and shame on them for making it their deciding factor. That being said, there is nothing wrong with the ASO opening up the fantastic opportunity to other local choral programs. Lassiter and Walton have been fortunate for 4 years to perform with the ASO. HOWEVER, all the ASO needed to say was that they were opening up the opportunity to other programs, since LHS and WHS have had their moment in the spotlight.
rawco
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August 20, 2012
Maybe we need to move the whole thing to the beautiful Cobb Energy Center and invite the Pittsburgh or Cleveland Symphony for this occasion. They are both more renown anyway.
Common Sense
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August 17, 2012
Nothing better than diversity over talent and ability level. Wow...this so reeks of reverse discrimination, racism and socialism...I blame Obama! Remember you didn't build that chorus.
Consider
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August 17, 2012
That diversity is not all it cracked to be - East Cobb does not have the shootings every night.
Timus
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August 17, 2012
Let me pose this question to all the whiners: Is it right to include Lassiter and Walton every year and exclude other schools? Regardless of the racial diversity of the newly included schools it's only fair to let other schools attend. Or are they less deserving?
meg565657
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August 18, 2012
they didn't say that now did they? they are excluding them because of there race not because they want to give opportunity to other schools.
MAY-RETTA SURVIVOR
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August 17, 2012
Sounds to me like q bunch of silly grownups with theirPC panties in a wad. If this kind of silliness continues, the net thing we'll have is a black president!
easy fix
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August 17, 2012
just have the two schools recruit black singers like they recruit black football players. *pushing Staples "Easy" button.*
anonymous
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August 17, 2012
@ easy fix

I think you may be on to something.

Maybe the City of Atlanta School system should recruit some white football players from Walton and Lassiter to bring up their grade point average and graduation rate?
Brookhaven
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August 17, 2012
THIS from an organization that promotes classical music? A European musical style which has always considered itself superior to every other form of music--meaning superior to non-European, non-white musical styles.

If I was a minority student, I wouldn't be interested in participating in an organization whose premise is the music produced by my ancestors was inferior to music originated by a bunch of white Europeans.

As a kid growing up in GA I listened to R&B (Augusta roots), southern rock (South GA/North Fl roots) and bluegrass (North GA roots)--music produced by the culture I grew up in. I deeply resented it every time I heard someone talk about the superiority of classical music (with its implied message that the music I listened to--the music my culture produced--was somehow inferior).

Maybe the ASO should look in the mirror and consider the soft racism it promotes with its focus on classical music.

Bernie Marcus
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August 17, 2012
Boycott the ASO. I plan to.......
Some guy
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August 17, 2012
I would believe the ASO before Cobb County.

Cobb (especially East Cobb) has an air of self-importance with a touch of better-than-you. As such, they got their feelings hurt that the ASO wants to allow an EQUALLY TALENTED group the opportunity to perform rather than them. Simple as that.
URKiddingRight?
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August 17, 2012


Tim, you better concentrate on your re-election campaign instead of weighing in on this controversy.

Besides, we already know how much disdain you have for the spoiled brat, racists in Cobb County.
Bill MIllette
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August 17, 2012
What color is a voice???
West Cobb Farmer
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August 17, 2012
"which is part of the symphony’s Coca-Cola Holiday Concert Series held at the symphony hall in the Woodruff Arts Center, Wade said."

It is ironic that the Company who in 1971 brought a group of young people together on a hilltop and taught the world to sing (In Perfect Harmony) is now sponsoring this ASO who only want to teach the politically correct and racially/ethnically diverse to sing.

Equally ironic is the notion that this community polarizing organization performs in a center named for the one person whose actions held Atlanta together during the turbulent 1960's; and helped the city avoid the racial polarization and violence that erupted in many cities and towns across America.
Boycott ASO
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August 17, 2012
Cancel your membership and boycott ASO. Keep your money in Cobb! Why fund crooks and bigots? Let Atlanta rot in it's corrupt world.
12546
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August 17, 2012
And we continue to marginalize poor white children.
Watcher...
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August 17, 2012
"When asked about the racial make-up of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Wade said that it is against his organization’s policy to share the race of its musicians."

This comment probably tells us a lot about the diversity of the ASO!

Forced "Diversity" is maddening!
LizzyTish
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August 17, 2012
If that is the truth, then why do they advertise and post their musicians and conductors names and pictures on their website.

The man is a tool and should be removed from his job for blatant discrimination. His orchestra is not diverse, 95% caucasian of some sort or another.

I'm sorry. I don't go to the symphony and listen to music for their diversity.
anonymous
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August 17, 2012
Maybe it should be called the Atlanta Bigot Symphony Orchestra (ABSO).

It's like many other things in this country that have been changed to focus on political correctness and quotas as the primary qualifications rather than talent and skill.

Look at MARTA as your poster child of reverse discrimination (80% minority employees) and then look at the performance or more correctly the lack of performance by that organization.

Same goes for the City of Atlanta.

Equal Opportunity is a worthy goal, but when it is used as an excuse to show preference to groups or individuals who might not otherwise be qualified or in the case of the ABSO to use it to discriminate against a high school chorus it is not a good thing.

And what kind of impression do you think this is going to leave on the kids at Lassiter and Walton?

Unfair, bigoted, short sighted and disgusting behavior by the ABSO.
Wha'Happened?
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August 17, 2012
Nothing wrong in bringing in other choruses from the area, of course. But if "diversity" is why they're doing it, then....*shakes head*....
confused, as usual
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August 17, 2012
What is the problem? Are the choruses all white or all black? Why should that even matter if it were the case? What is the truth here?
Just curious...
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August 17, 2012
...but I believe the U.S. Supreme Court ruled quite some time ago that racial quotas were unconstitutional.
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