Black Reflections is a three-part panel discussion on Black artistry in concert music hosted by Oberlin Conservatory and the New World Symphony. Conversations will cover the historical and social context of Black musicians’ participation in concert music, the personal experiences of Black musicians, and reimagining a just and equitable future for Black artists in concert music. Panelists include Black artists, activists, scholars, and executives in classical music and jazz.
Black Reflections: Contributions of Black Artists
Black Reflections: Experiences of Black Artists
Black Reflections: A Just Future for Black Artists
Conversations on Racial Justice in Music
Black Reflections is a discussion series focusing on three interrelated elements of Black artistry in music, including the historical and social context of Black musicians' participation in concert music, the personal experiences of Black musicians, and reimagining a just and equitable future for Black artists in concert music. Each discussion will feature a varied scope of perspectives provided by Black/BIPOC artists, activists, scholars, and executives in classical music and jazz.
These conversations seek to illuminate the often-overlooked contributions of Black musicians to concert music as composers and artists throughout history until today. They will highlight the firsthand experiences of Black musicians and any guidance they would like to impart to others. Most important, these conversations will imagine a more just, diverse, and equitable future for classical music, and hold ourselves and our institutions accountable for its manifestation.
This project was created by New World Symphony Bass Fellow Michael Martin '17 shortly after the killing of George Floyd on May 25. The catalyst for this project was a lecture on genocide by Northwestern University professor and Holocaust scholar Danny Cohen. Professor Cohen’s lecture outlined the roles cultural erasure, marginalization, and systemic racism play in instigating genocide in different societies, including our own.
These concepts prompted Martin to more closely examine the legacy of Black artistry in concert music, from the Baroque era to jazz, and his own experiences as a Black double bassist. He found a need for a moment of deep reflection on the contributions of Black musicians, the experience of Black musicians, and a more just and equitable future for Black musicians.
Michael Martin, a first-year bass fellow at the New World Symphony, is a former diversity fellow with the Cincinnati Symphony and an associate member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Recent concert appearances include sharing a stage with violinist Rachel Barton Pine, violist Matthew Lipman, and late-night host and comedian Stephen Colbert. He holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Northwestern University.
Black Reflections is funded and hosted by the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the New World Symphony. The series is also supported in part by the Sphinx Organization and Gateways Festival. Black Reflections is an NWS BLUE project, made possible with support from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation.