Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

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lennygoran
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Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jul 21, 2021 6:15 am

Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

The success of some artists of Asian descent obscures the fact that many face routine racism and discrimination.

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By Javier C. Hernández
July 21, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

As reports of anti-Asian hate crimes spread in the United States earlier this year, David Kim, a violist in the San Francisco Symphony, found himself despondent.

Kim, who is Korean American, was already disturbed by what he saw as widespread racism in classical music. He believed Asian string players were marginalized and treated “like cattle,” as he put it in a recent interview. “Like a herd of mechanical robots.”

And he felt his white colleagues in San Francisco, who make up 83 percent of the orchestra, did not share his urgency about building a culture more welcoming to Asian, Black and Latino players.

Feeling isolated and angry, Kim, 40, began to question his career. In March he resigned as the sole musician of color on an orchestra committee focused on equity and inclusion. And after the ensemble resumed live performances in May, he took time off, feeling on several occasions too distraught to play.

“I felt invisible, even though I was speaking very loudly,” Kim said. “I lost my passion for music.”


By some measures, artists with roots in China, Japan, South Korea and other countries are well represented in classical music. They win top prizes at competitions and make up a substantial share of orchestras and conservatories. Stars like the Chinese American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Japanese American violinist Midori and the Chinese pianist Lang Lang are among the most sought-after performers in the world.

Yet the success of some Asian artists obscures the fact that many face routine racism and discrimination, according to interviews with more than 40 orchestra players, soloists, opera singers, composers, students, teachers and administrators.

Asian artists encounter stereotypes that their music-making is soulless and mechanical. They are portrayed as exotic and treated as outsiders in a world with its main lineage from Europe. They are accused of besmirching cultural traditions that aren’t theirs and have become targets of online harassment and racial slurs.

While artists of Asian descent may be represented in classical music, many say they do not feel seen.

“You’re not always allowed to be the kind of artist you want to be,” said Nina Shekhar, 26, an Indian American composer who said her music is often wrongly characterized as having Indian attributes. “It feels very invalidating.”

The number of Asian soloists and orchestra musicians has swelled in recent decades, even as Black and Latino artists remain severely underrepresented. But in other parts of the industry, including opera, composition, conducting, arts administration and the boards of leading cultural institutions, Asians are scarce. A lack of role models has exacerbated the problem, artists say, making success in these fields seem elusive.

“At times, you feel like an endangered species,” said Xian Zhang, the music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Zhang is one of a small number of Asian female conductors leading major ensembles.

Zhang, who is Chinese American, said she has at times had difficulty persuading male musicians to take her seriously, including during appearances as a guest conductor in Europe. “They don’t quite know how to react seeing an Asian woman on the podium telling them what to do,” she said.


The recent rise in reports of anti-Asian hate has aroused calls for change. Musicians have formed advocacy groups and have called on cultural organizations to add Asian leaders and to more prominently feature Asian artists and composers.

But classical music has long been resistant to evolution. Deep-seated stereotypes about Asians continue to surface. In June, the eminent violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman was widely denounced after he invoked racist stereotypes about Asians during a Juilliard master class. He later apologized.

Even some of the industry’s most successful artists say a climate of casual racism has affected their careers. Sumi Jo, 58, a renowned coloratura soprano from South Korea, described having several roles rescinded because stage directors thought she was not white enough.

“If you’re Asian and you want to be successful,” she said, “you must work 100 times harder, that’s for sure.”


Artists of Asian descent have long been the subject of racist tropes and slurs, dating back to at least the 1960s and ’70s, when musicians immigrated to the United States from Japan, Korea and other parts of East Asia to study and perform. A 1967 report in Time magazine, titled “Invasion From the Orient,” reflected the thinking of the era.

“The stringed instruments were physically ideal for the Orientals: Their nimble fingers, so proficient in delicate calligraphy and other crafts, adapted easily to the demands of the fingerboard,” the article said.

Over time, Asian artists gained a foothold in orchestras and on the concert circuit. By 2014, the last year for which data is available, musicians of Asian descent made up about 9 percent of large ensembles, according to the League of American Orchestras; in the United States, Asians represent about 6 percent of the population. In renowned groups like the New York Philharmonic, the number is even higher: Asians now account for a third of that orchestra. (In Europe, it’s often a different story: In the London Symphony Orchestra, for example, three of 82 players, or less than 4 percent, have Asian roots, while Asians make up more than 18 percent of London’s population.)

Yet racist portrayals of Asian artists have persisted. Some have been told by conductors that they look like computer engineers, not classical musicians. Others have been described by audition committees as too weak and youthful to be taken seriously. Still others have been told their names are too foreign to pronounce or remember.

“You get written off as an automaton,” said Akiko Tarumoto, the assistant concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Tarumoto, 44, who is Japanese American, said that musicians of Asian descent in the Philharmonic are sometimes mistaken for each other, and in other ensembles she had heard fellow musicians refer to new hires simply as “Chinese girls.”

Celebrated soloists have tried to turn the stereotypes on their head. Lang Lang has said that his embrace of an exuberantly expressive style may have been in part a reaction to perceptions that Asians are cold and reserved.


Yuja Wang, another Chinese pianist, has tried, with mixed success, to satirize the stereotype of Asians as robots, which scholars attribute partly to misconceptions about the Suzuki method of teaching music. (It originated in Japan in the 1950s and was criticized in the West for producing homogeneous musicians, but remains in wide use, including among non-Asian students.) In 2019, Wang joined a comedy duo for a contentious concert at Carnegie Hall that was filled with crude jokes about her sexual appeal and Chinese heritage.

Wang, 34, said in an interview that early in her career she faced stereotypes that she was technically adept but emotionally shallow. “I didn’t like how they just categorized us and pigeonholed us,” she said.

While she said she has rarely experienced overt racism, Wang said she has at times felt like an outsider in the industry, including when others mispronounce her name or do not appear to take her seriously.

Other prominent soloists have been reluctant to speak publicly about race. Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, Midori and the star pianist Mitsuko Uchida declined to comment for this article.

Zubin Mehta, 85, an Indian-born conductor who is a towering figure in the field, said he had never experienced racism and did not believe the industry discriminated against Asians. He said he had “complete sympathy” for those who felt they were mistreated, but that he was not aware of serious problems.

Ray Chen, a Taiwanese Australian violinist who has built a wide following on social media, said that audience members have expressed surprise that he can play Mendelssohn and other composers, saying that music is not in his blood. While he believes there is less discrimination now, he said he struggled to get opportunities in Europe earlier in his career — in part, he felt, because of his Asian heritage.

“People get offended that you’re not adhering to the rules, the culture,” said Chen, 32. “This is something that’s so wrong with the classical music industry: the fear of something new.”

Female artists of Asian descent say they face additional obstacles, including stereotypes that they are exotic and obedient. Soyeon Kate Lee, 42, a Korean American pianist, said a conductor once described her in front of other orchestra leaders as “cheap and good” and suggested she perform a lap dance.


Xenophobic suggestions that Asians are taking away orchestra jobs or spots at conservatories are also common. Yuka Kadota, a violinist for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, said Asian musicians are seen as “some sort of invasive species, like carp or murder hornets.”

Kadota, 43, who is Japanese American, said she felt “self-conscious and slightly apologetic” during a recent performance of a Brahms string quintet, because four of the five players were women of Asian descent.

“I don’t want people to think we’re taking over,” she said.
A Dearth of Asian Artists

Even as people of Asian descent make strides in orchestras, they remain underrepresented in many parts of the music industry, including conducting, composition and opera.


“I try to accept rejections as part of my reality,” said the conductor Mei-Ann Chen, the music director of the Chicago Sinfonietta and the incoming leader of Recreation — Grosses Orchester Graz in Austria.

Chen, 48, who is from Taiwan, said donors had canceled meetings and presenters had withdrawn performance opportunities after learning she was Asian. “I had to have a thick skin to come this far,” she said.


Arts organizations have in recent years vowed to feature works by a wider range of composers. But artists of Asian descent say that, aside from concerts to celebrate holidays such as the Lunar New Year, they have largely been left out.

Works by Asian composers comprise about 2 percent of pieces planned by American orchestras in the 2021-22 season, according to an analysis of 88 orchestras by the Institute for Composer Diversity at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

The dearth of Asian artists is particularly striking in opera, which has long struggled with a lack of racial diversity. At the Metropolitan Opera, the largest performing arts organization in the United States, 14 of 233 singers announced for principal roles next season, or about 6 percent, are of Asian descent. Four appear in the same production: an abridged holiday version of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” (Asians make up about 14 percent of New York City’s population.)

There are now a large number of Asians in important conservatory vocal programs; the Manhattan School of Music said that 47 percent of the students currently in its vocal arts department are of Asian descent. But they are not anywhere close to that well represented on opera stages.

Nicholas Phan, 42, a tenor of Chinese and Greek descent, said Asians tend to be seen as technically precise yet artistically vacuous. A teacher of Phan’s once told him he should adopt a non-Chinese surname so that competition judges and casting directors would not view him as “just another dumb Asian singer.”


When Asians win spots in opera productions, they are often typecast in roles such as Cio-Cio San in “Madama Butterfly” or the titular princess in “Turandot.” Those classics have been criticized for racist portrayals of Asians — though the prominent soprano He Hui, who is Chinese, said she loved singing Butterfly, one of her signature parts.

Nina Yoshida Nelsen, a mezzo-soprano, said that of more than 180 performances she had given in the past decade, only nine were in roles that are not considered stereotypically Asian.

“My success has been predicated on my tokenization,” said Nelsen, 41, who is half Japanese. She wrote a Facebook post in March calling on others to “stop seeing my color and the shape of my eyes as something different — something to ‘typecast.’”

Within a week, Nelsen said, she had three offers, none of them for stereotypical roles.
Pushing for Change

“It’s time for us to speak up and not be afraid,” said Sou-Chun Su, 53, a Taiwan-born violinist in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 1990. It was difficult, he said, to get leaders of the orchestra interested in concerns raised by Asian players until six people of Asian descent were shot and killed in Atlanta in March, which prompted widespread outcry.

“It shouldn’t have taken something like that,” Su said. (In a statement, the orchestra said it was working to build a more inclusive culture, though it acknowledged “we have much more to do.”)

Hyeyung Yoon, a former member of the Chiara String Quartet, last year founded Asian Musical Voices of America, an alliance of artists, because she felt performers of Asian descent had no forum to discuss issues of racism and identity. The group hosts monthly meetings on Zoom.

Yoon said cultural institutions often exclude Asians from discussions about bringing more diversity to classical music because they are assumed to be adequately represented. “The Asian experience is hardly present,” she said.

Some artists have taken to social media to challenge their employers. Miran Kim, a violinist of South Korean descent in the Metropolitan Opera’s orchestra, recently wrote on Twitter about her “exhaustion and frustration” playing works with racist caricatures, such as “Madama Butterfly.” She also criticized the Met for selling a Butterfly-themed sleep mask described as evoking “exotic elegance” and mimicking “the alluring eyes of an Indian princess or Japanese Geisha girl.” (The mask was removed from the online store and the Met apologized.)

“We’re not included,” Kim, 31, said in an interview, referring to the lack of Asians in leadership positions. “We’re not part of the conversation.”


There have been some signs of progress. San Francisco Opera will next month welcome Eun Sun Kim, a South Korean conductor, as its music director, the first woman to hold such a post at a major American opera company.

Yet significant challenges remain. David Kim, the violist at the San Francisco Symphony who is questioning his career, said he has grown tired of clashing with colleagues over issues like the tone of public statements on racism. He also feels the orchestra does not do enough to feature composers of color.

Kim, who has played in the ensemble since 2009, said he is grappling with a sense of loss after realizing that his work as a classical musician no longer aligns with his values. “I’m not proud of being a part of an industry that is so self-unaware, that’s so entitled and has so little regard for social justice,” he said.

He says he believes change will not come until classical music — “racism disguised as art,” he called it — reckons with its legacy of intolerance.

“On the surface, Asians are accepted in these realms of orchestras, ensembles and as soloists,” Kim said. “But are we really accepted?”


https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/arts ... music.html

david johnson
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by david johnson » Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:58 am

classical music — “racism disguised as art,” : I've never thought of it that way. I've met way too many fine players of various ethnicities to even consider the idea. I will never play as well as one of my black section mates did!! I often consider my music world beyond only 'classical'. If I want to know how Balkan trumpeters do their great job, I listen to them. Same with Mariachi players and the grand number of multi race jazzers.

Modernistfan
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by Modernistfan » Thu Jul 22, 2021 10:25 am

I would not take the extreme position that classical music, now clearly an international art form, is "racism disguised as art." However, I think that the issues raised by the Asian performers and administrators must be taken very seriously, and the problems go far beyond the issues associated with performance of works such as "Turandot" and "Madama Butterfly." A lot of this goes back, like it or not, to the völkisch thinking prevalent in Germany and Austria before World War II. According to such thinking, there is a clear distinction between "culture" and "civilization" and classical music, especially the Austro-Germanic repertoire, is associated with the deep structure of Austro-Germanic culture and only those who are part of the Volk could fully appreciate, understand, or interpret such music. This would essentially eliminate Jews and Slavs, not to mention Asians or Blacks. One of the tropes associated with performers or conductors who were not part of the Volk was "empty virtuosity" (see comments made in the early 1930's by Wilhelm Furtwängler). The comments regarding the playing of Asian performers as "soulless and mechanical" align perfectly with this view.

Rach3
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by Rach3 » Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:10 am

Violinist Koh's view:

By Jennifer Koh
July 21, 2021,, NYT

I have not been surprised by the recent violence toward Asian Americans. I palpably remember being afraid when I was a child in Illinois, in the 1980s.

At that time, Japan was seen as a looming economic force invading the United States. In 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man, was beaten to death by two white men who thought he was Japanese, here to steal American jobs. The perpetrators received a $3,000 fine and probation for killing a man who looked like my father. The message was clear: Asian American lives had little value.

This message trickled down to my elementary school, where my classmates broke eggs into my hair and hit me on an almost daily basis for five years because I was not white. And yet I was grateful to be Asian American. After all, we were the model minority.

This myth that all Asian Americans are quiet, diligent and successful was invented to pit minority groups against each other, making racism palatable by giving Asians distorted praise and falsely promising them access to the white American dream. The myth defers the kind of solidarity between minorities that could threaten entrenched racial power structures.

This myth also hides truths: Currently in New York City, nearly a quarter of the Asian population lives below the poverty line; Asian immigrants have among the highest poverty rates in the city.


A beneficiary of changes to American immigration policies that had placed quotas on nonwhite immigrants, I am the daughter of Korean War refugees. During her childhood, my mother witnessed horrific violence and experienced overwhelming fear and hunger. Although my family’s history is a common one for Korean Americans, it is a part of Asian American history largely ignored in this country. But perhaps even less known is what it is like to be an Asian American woman in classical music.

“In the beginning of my career, I was told by an influential conductor — who had never heard me play — that I could never be a true artist.”

Having had few opportunities in their childhoods, my parents provided me with numerous extracurricular activities, one of which was violin lessons. But when I was growing up, I saw very few people in music who looked like me. In 1980, according to the League of American Orchestras, 96.6 percent of orchestral players in the country were white. At that time, the “Oriental presence in classical music,” as a New York Times article put it, was a topic of discussion.

These days, Asians are often referred to as overrepresented minorities. In the League of American Orchestras’s most recent data, 86.8 percent of orchestral musicians are white and 9.1 percent are of Asian descent. Among executives in classical music, 91.7 percent are white. The percentage of ethnic Asians in these management positions is too small to be included.

It is highly misleading to say that Asian Americans are overrepresented in what remains an overwhelmingly white and male field.

Classical music is often called “universal,” but what does universality mean when the field was built for white men who still hold much of the power? In my nearly 30-year career, I have seen not even a handful of ethnic Asians — much less Asian American women — ascend to executive or leadership positions.

I have witnessed throughout my career that those of us who are ethnically Asian but were born, raised or trained in America and Europe, are burdened with the belief that musicians of Asian descent are diligent, hard-working and technically perfect — but cannot understand the true essence of music, have no soul and ultimately cannot be true artists. In the beginning of my career, I was told by an influential conductor — who had never heard me play — that I could never be a true artist because he did not understand Chinese music and therefore Chinese people could never understand classical music.

The American historian Grace Wang uses the term “innate capacity” to describe the belief that different types of music originate from, and therefore belong to, specific groups of people from specific places. The assumption that a musician can be a great interpreter of a composer because he or she is from the country where the composer once lived is often expressed, both implicitly and explicitly. Technique can be learned, according to this perspective, but the ability to truly understand the essence of classical music can only be acquired through bloodline and race.

In 2007, it was revealed that Joyce Hatto, a white British pianist, had stolen recordings of other pianists — including those of Yuki Matsuzawa, a Japanese woman — and released them as her own. Tom Deacon, long considered a gatekeeper in classical music, a former record executive and a well-traveled competitions judge, had written on a classical music message board about both Hatto’s and Matsuzawa’s recordings, without knowing they were the same.]

Of what he believed to be Hatto, Deacon wrote: “My oh my, this is a beautiful recording of Chopin’s music. The pieces flow so naturally and so completely, without precious effects.” Hatto, he added, played “the octaves so incredibly smoothly that they seem to flow from her fingers”

Of what was labeled, correctly, as Matsuzawa: “Faceless, typewriter, neat as a pin but utterly flaccid performances with small, tiny poetic gestures added like so much rouge on the face of a Russian doll.”

Aside from the obvious contrast between his praise of Hatto and his loathing of Matsuzawa for the exact same performance, what fascinates me is the language. Deacon encapsulates nearly every stereotype of Asian musicians: He writes that Matsuzawa’s performances are “faceless,” while a white woman’s “flow naturally”; the Asian pianist is technically “neat as a pin,” a “typewriter,” not organically creative and only able to copy a European’s innate capacity.

Classical music continues to perpetuate these and other stereotypes, including through the continued use of yellowface — white performers painted with yellow makeup and slanted eyes — in opera productions. Yellowface normalizes caricatures of Asians and fetishizes Asian women, exoticizing them through stereotypes of them as alternately submissive and hypersexual.

So how can classical music empower and create space for all members of our community?

Ask Asian Americans to curate programs and create work — not just about Asia, with token Lunar New Year concerts, but about our unique experiences and contributions as Americans of Asian descent.

Hire and commission Asian and Asian American singers, instrumentalists, conductors and composers to break stereotypes and amplify our individualities and complexities.

Mentor Asian Americans at the beginning of their musical careers. Sponsor and promote Asian Americans in arts management and administration. Recruit Asian Americans onto the boards of arts organizations.

And, when you have Asian Americans on your boards, listen to them — empower them to reframe discussions about inclusion and equity, and give them the freedom to issue statements about violence against those who look like them. Learn the histories of Asian Americans and create paths to engage with all members of your community.

My mentors fought for my inclusion in the classical world. It is now my responsibility to help build a more inclusive field for future generations. I invite musicians and musical institutions to create these new spaces with me and my forward-thinking colleagues.

Modernistfan
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by Modernistfan » Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:37 am

Agreed 100%. The comments about "innate capacity" align perfectly with what I described as völkisch thinking. This remains a serious problem.

maestrob
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by maestrob » Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:41 am

Mitsuko Uchida and Yo-Yo Ma are two of the finest musicians on the world stage today. The greatest rendition of Debussy's "Sunken Cathedral" ("La Cathedrale engloutie") I've ever heard was played by Uchida in a Carnegie hall recital about 25 years ago. You could have heard a pin drop during the entire piece. I was in tears at the end, and the audience exploded.

Her two CDs of late Beethoven sonatas on the Phillips label are often in my stereo. They offer insights that rival Richter's.

If you haven't heard it, pull up Yuja Wang's Berlin recital on DGG. 'Nuff said.

Yo-Yo Ma's infectious enthusiasm for everything from Bach to Barber has won me over again and again.

When the New York Philharmonic recently televised a concert of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony, I was pleased to see Alan Gilbert urging on an orchestra with many, many Asians in the orchestra to an inspired performance, including his own mother!

Great music resonates with people from all backgrounds, I've found. I've worked with them in my competition, and the percentage of contestants of different races coincided very well with their respective percentage of the population at large.

As an example, just look at the success of the Ring Cycle recorded by Naxos featuring the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Truly fine, IMHO.

My way of approaching this topic is to just shrug it off and enjoy the high quality of the music being produced nowadays by so many non-white people.

Warms my heart, it does.

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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by barney » Fri Jul 23, 2021 8:08 pm

I tend to agree, Brian. I can't speak to other people's experience but I esteem highly many, many Asian musicians, from rank and file in my own orchestra to the really fine soloists and conductors of the past 50 years, of whom there have dozens.
The MSO had a long-term chief conductor, Hiroyuki Iwaki, Japanese, who was loved and admired by the orchestra, and who has been sorely missed. He was chief conductor for a record 24 years to 1997, and emeritus until his death in 2006.
I think it is Asians who will keep classical music flourishing. I read years ago that there are as many piano students in China as the rest of the world - tens of millions.

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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by Donald Isler » Sat Jul 24, 2021 12:00 am

Regarding the old-fashioned notion that one has an inherent benefit from being of the same ethnic background as the composer here is an excerpt from an enthusiastic 2010 CMG review I wrote about pianist Haesun Paik:
"We are, of course, long past the days when people took seriously the idea that the nationality of the performer should guarantee success in music by composers of the same background, ie. that a Pole should be expected to play Chopin well, or that a German should be good at Beethoven. However, were that notion still considered valid, this evening might have been used to support the premise that Schumann, Liszt and Scriabin were all Korean, so great was the pianist's identification with their idioms!"
Donald Isler

barney
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by barney » Sat Jul 24, 2021 8:23 am

Donald Isler wrote:
Sat Jul 24, 2021 12:00 am
Regarding the old-fashioned notion that one has an inherent benefit from being of the same ethnic background as the composer here is an excerpt from an enthusiastic 2010 CMG review I wrote about pianist Haesun Paik:
"We are, of course, long past the days when people took seriously the idea that the nationality of the performer should guarantee success in music by composers of the same background, ie. that a Pole should be expected to play Chopin well, or that a German should be good at Beethoven. However, were that notion still considered valid, this evening might have been used to support the premise that Schumann, Liszt and Scriabin were all Korean, so great was the pianist's identification with their idioms!"
:D

maestrob
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by maestrob » Sat Jul 24, 2021 8:38 am

Donald Isler wrote:
Sat Jul 24, 2021 12:00 am
Regarding the old-fashioned notion that one has an inherent benefit from being of the same ethnic background as the composer here is an excerpt from an enthusiastic 2010 CMG review I wrote about pianist Haesun Paik:
"We are, of course, long past the days when people took seriously the idea that the nationality of the performer should guarantee success in music by composers of the same background, ie. that a Pole should be expected to play Chopin well, or that a German should be good at Beethoven. However, were that notion still considered valid, this evening might have been used to support the premise that Schumann, Liszt and Scriabin were all Korean, so great was the pianist's identification with their idioms!"
Well said, Don, as usual. :D

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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by Lance » Sat Jul 24, 2021 5:59 pm

Loved it, Donald!
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THEHORN
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by THEHORN » Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:55 pm

No doubt the practice of blind auditions behind a screen for orchestras has enabled so many talented Asian American and Asian born musicians to gain a place in US orchestras . But I've never heard reports abhor things being this bad for classical musicians of Asian origin in America . True, there have been some asinine comments about them allegedly not having the ability to "interpret and feel the music " they way white ones do by some prominent white classical musicians, but I'm not sure things are actually this bad for asian American classical musicians.

maestrob
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by maestrob » Wed Jul 28, 2021 7:02 am

THEHORN wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:55 pm
No doubt the practice of blind auditions behind a screen for orchestras has enabled so many talented Asian American and Asian born musicians to gain a place in US orchestras . But I've never heard reports abhor things being this bad for classical musicians of Asian origin in America . True, there have been some asinine comments about them allegedly not having the ability to "interpret and feel the music " they way white ones do by some prominent white classical musicians, but I'm not sure things are actually this bad for asian American classical musicians.
I wonder. Don't you think Uchida would have been asked to record more Beethoven Sonatas besides the two CDs that she produced a while back if that were so? I play them frequently, and her insights rank with the best Europeans who have recorded complete cycles. Her Mozart concerti and sonatas are exquisite as well. Also, Ozawa, who started out with phenomenal success with his early Chicago Symphony recordings, became quite bland when he acquired "tenure" in Boston, with few exceptions. Could prejudice have been part of that change?

One wonders.

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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by barney » Wed Jul 28, 2021 9:00 am

maestrob wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 7:02 am
THEHORN wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:55 pm
No doubt the practice of blind auditions behind a screen for orchestras has enabled so many talented Asian American and Asian born musicians to gain a place in US orchestras . But I've never heard reports abhor things being this bad for classical musicians of Asian origin in America . True, there have been some asinine comments about them allegedly not having the ability to "interpret and feel the music " they way white ones do by some prominent white classical musicians, but I'm not sure things are actually this bad for asian American classical musicians.
I wonder. Don't you think Uchida would have been asked to record more Beethoven Sonatas besides the two CDs that she produced a while back if that were so? I play them frequently, and her insights rank with the best Europeans who have recorded complete cycles. Her Mozart concerti and sonatas are exquisite as well. Also, Ozawa, who started out with phenomenal success with his early Chicago Symphony recordings, became quite bland when he acquired "tenure" in Boston, with few exceptions. Could prejudice have been part of that change?

One wonders.
I reckon Uchida might be quite satisfied with her career. She is much loved and lauded, and the smaller number of Beethoven recordings might well be her own choice. She's certainly one of the generational greats.

maestrob
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Re: Asians Are Represented in Classical Music. But Are They Seen?

Post by maestrob » Wed Jul 28, 2021 9:47 am

barney wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 9:00 am
maestrob wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 7:02 am
THEHORN wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:55 pm
No doubt the practice of blind auditions behind a screen for orchestras has enabled so many talented Asian American and Asian born musicians to gain a place in US orchestras . But I've never heard reports abhor things being this bad for classical musicians of Asian origin in America . True, there have been some asinine comments about them allegedly not having the ability to "interpret and feel the music " they way white ones do by some prominent white classical musicians, but I'm not sure things are actually this bad for asian American classical musicians.
I wonder. Don't you think Uchida would have been asked to record more Beethoven Sonatas besides the two CDs that she produced a while back if that were so? I play them frequently, and her insights rank with the best Europeans who have recorded complete cycles. Her Mozart concerti and sonatas are exquisite as well. Also, Ozawa, who started out with phenomenal success with his early Chicago Symphony recordings, became quite bland when he acquired "tenure" in Boston, with few exceptions. Could prejudice have been part of that change?

One wonders.
I reckon Uchida might be quite satisfied with her career. She is much loved and lauded, and the smaller number of Beethoven recordings might well be her own choice. She's certainly one of the generational greats.
Sure! All I wanted to do was to raise the question.

Her Debussy CD of the 12 Etudes has been reissued at least twice by my count, yet there has been nothing more from her on that front either.

My only disappointment with her was her Schubert, which sounded more than a bit disjointed and not up to her usual standard of excellence. Every great artist has music that they don't quite relate to during their careers, but that set was quite disappointing for me. Perhaps that experience discouraged her from doing complete works boxes. Sviatoslav Richter took the same approach to his repertoire, and he did fine in the end as to reputation, didn't he?

Still, I miss knowing what Uchida would bring to the rest of Debussy and Beethoven's solo works. Imagine her Diabellis!

Or perhaps some scintillating Scarlatti!

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