Joint performance helped overcome the ASO’s Tin Ear
February 21, 2013 12:00 AM | 1704 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Today we offer a tremendous “Bravo!” to some of the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and to the students in the Lassiter and Walton High School choruses. But to the pigment-obsessed management of the ASO, we offer nothing but a loud “PFFT!”

You’ll recall that ASO management last summer gave the hook to the two choruses, which had performed with the symphony on a regular basis during the holiday season for several years.

So why did the ASO give pink slips to the two choruses? Not because they couldn’t sing well enough. Rather, it was because they were too pale. Or to be perfectly blunt, too white. The schools serve an area of east Cobb that is more than 75 percent white, and the student bodies reflect that.

The ASO board admitted as much, telling the directors of the two Cobb choruses that their groups were being disinvited because the ASO preferred to use other high school choruses that were “more diverse.”

Rather than admitting that it was guilty of race-based decisions, the ASO board lamely countered that a few singers from each school could still appear with the ASO, but said there would not be room for them all on the stage with the orchestra and the substitute chorus from Grady High in Atlanta.

To their credit, directors Brian Williams at Lassiter and Jana Williams at Walton told the ASO it was all of their singers — or none of them.

The ASO — in a mockery of Martin Luther King’s well-known dream about choosing based on quality, not skin color — chose to stick with its original decision.

Apparently embarrassed by the ASO management’s scarcely veiled racial politics, a number of its musicians privately arranged to appear in concert with the 200 Cobb students affected to show their support.

That concert took place Tuesday evening at Lassiter’s recently completed performance hall and went off without a hitch. Proceeds went to the chorus-booster clubs at the two schools.

The students gained the experience of working with professional-level musicians in a high-profile setting. And the ASO musicians, intentionally or otherwise, sent a message to their management.

Let’s hope that next year, those who run the ASO won’t have such tin ears.
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