Wednesday, June 05, 2013
I'm a classically trained pianist and violinist. I love classical music most among all genres I've encountered so far, and if I had to choose just one genre to listen to for the rest of my life, classical would be it.
There is a pretty good music university/college where I live, and I've been to quite a few master class exams now. I even got to attend a class with a very famous pianist once! I just sat in the back row and made fingering notes, but it was still incredibly inspiring and motivating.
Today, I went to a clarinet class's final exam. The final exams for those advanced students are held in the extraordinarily beautiful neo-baroque concert hall of Hamburg. The student who performed today was really good- she still needs to work a little on her breath techniques so they flow more naturally with what she wants to express, but she's on her way to becoming one of those chosen few who make music their profession, and she'll be great at it.
Just as I was leaving the concert venue, still high on the music, I overheard someone saying that "well, that girl was pretty good for a Black person."
"Yeah, I know, I thought this was the classical clarinet final and then I thought I'd stumbled into the Jazz ones."
"Yeah, but then it all turned out alright, right?"
Not one word about how amazing this young musician had been.
This is what I honestly hate about the classical music world: It's one of the most backward and racist environments possible. If you're not white or Asian, don't even TRY to set foot in it. You'll be met with comments like these all the time.
I really admire people like the young woman who performed tonight- people who willingly and with open eyes expose themselves to this toxic environment in order to change people's perceptions of what someone should be, what style of music they should prefer and play, because of what they look like.
As for what I did? I wheeled around and snapped at the two talkers that they were racists and should feel ashamed for what they had said. I hope it made them think at least a little.