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Asher B. '20 — Exploring Diversity in Classical Music

The Project: A discussion group that listens to and explores classical music from composers with marginalized identities, shedding light on the inequities that exist within the artistic community.

The Inspiration: Over my brief life as a musician, most of the music I have played has been music written and composed by white men. My project aims to highlight composers that have been marginalized because of their race, gender or any combination of those identities.

What I hope this conversation brings to light is that people are interested in seeing institutions present music, ballets and operas written by people other than the big-name composers we all know.

The Process: During the introductory weeks of Junior Workshop students receive a process notebook, which we are encouraged to write in every single day to record our thoughts and feelings about our projects. It’s through the process of trial and error that you figure out what might work. At the beginning of the year, my idea was classical music, but I didn't know it would take the form of a group discussion, or even talking about composers of color. You start big, and as the mod goes along your idea becomes more centralized and specific. The process is about presenting an idea and letting the community around you shape it.

What I Learned: I think if Junior Workshop has taught me anything, it is to be really driven about my own work.  The program really encourages students to hold themselves accountable and set deadlines.

I also learned how to reach out. Before I thought that I had to do it myself, but then I began to unlearn that and knew to reach out [to advisors and peers] when I needed help.  A project really can't be successful without consulting and listening to others.