Demand for Change in the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music

We are a group of Chapman University Music alumni and students, and at this moment in history, it is unacceptable for us to remain silent in the realm of social injustice.

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black and minority Americans have asked communities across the nation to respond to systemic racism, bigotry, and oppression. It is within this culture that we are calling for the Chapman Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music to take an unequivocal stance regarding the program's long-term commitment towards equity, inclusion, and advocacy for historically marginalized voices by making the following changes to their curriculum.

Syllabi of the various history and literature courses actively, consistently, and enthusiastically to include a diverse array of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) composers, performers, genres, styles, and repertoire in the core curriculum.
More courses that center the lives and works of BIPOC composers and pedagogues, and their impact on music culture and modern day society, ideally taught by a non-white faculty member. A singular, non-western music course offered every semester is not enough.
Solo music, large ensembles (CU Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Treble Choir, University Choir and University Singer's), and small ensembles (New Music, Piano Ensemble, etc.) to revise their classical repertoire list to include compositions by BIPOC composers outside of traditionally acknowledged "classical" European music. We would like to also suggest for the student committees of the conservatory, large, and small ensembles to assist in programming selection along with the ensemble director or the faculty advisor in order to craft inclusive and diverse concert repertoire.
Chapman University is "deeply committed to enriching diversity and inclusion" and "strive[s] to provide an inclusive academic curriculum, promote equity and access in recruitment and retention and develop meaningful outreach programs and partnerships with our diverse local communities." Whenever our large ensembles perform at the Musco Center, collaborate with other Philharmonic societies, or tour out-of-state, we represent our university on campus through these publicly hosted concerts. By using our platform to showcase works of BIPOC composers, we send a clear and impactful message regarding the priorities of the program and institution. Concert programs consisting of all-White composers must no longer be considered acceptable. This must not be confined to the 2020-21 academic year, but should be established as standard practice.

There is also a strong pedagogical reason for this pursuit: as many of my colleagues are current or upcoming music teachers and educators, we have the responsibility of educating the next generation of music lovers and musicians. Our lack of discussion of BIPOC composers, teachers, and history in our education ignores a wide variety of diverse cultures and demographics. This is unacceptable. Actions that administration should take to properly enact a more inclusive and comprehensive curriculum include:

Advocating and using more current research about and by BIPOC students and teachers.
Including BIPOC voices and composers in conversations surrounding programming, advocacy, mental health, and diversity.
Take active efforts in inviting BIPOC professors, students, and persons from the music and education community to speak on their areas of expertise.
Actively and visibly make an effort to recruit BIPOC students into the undergraduate and graduate cohort; inclusive of funding, prerequisite experience, and other systemic factors that have resulted in 78.9% of our profession being white. (Data USA, 2017).
Include mandatory faculty diversity training at our university. As educators, our faculty must strive to hold themselves accountable in their efforts to dismantle unconscious biases that play into how they treat BIPOC students.
A predominantly white and European composer/repertoire is a systemic stigma that is established throughout a majority of classical conservatories around the world. To affirm that Chapman University's Hall-Musco Conservatory provides its musicians with well-rounded and global education, our ensembles must perform music from marginalized historical BIPOC composers AND establish a clear commitment to commission and performing new works by living BIPOC composers. This pursuit will not only address present issues of equity and inclusion but will also contribute to the crafting of a more robust, diverse, and equitable musical canon for future generations.

Once again, we are calling for bold, direct, and unequivocal action towards a more diverse and well-rounded curriculum. Therefore, we ask for all performing ensembles to pursue a concert agenda including works of BIPOC composers for the 2020-21 academic year. Proceeding this year, we ask for ensembles to transition to the aforementioned model of including historical and/or new works by BIPOC composers on every concert with the input of the student body.


Ariel Chien, class of '18

Andrea Stain, class of '19

Crystal Mo, class of '20

Brooke Harmon, class of '20

Chris Noble, class of '21

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