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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The English Touring Opera (ETO) is leading the way in tackling, the lack of diversity, sex discrimination and hopefully the pernicious effect of white privilege in modern opera performance.

According to Lebrecht's publication, musicians previously engaged at the ETO have been written to ending their engagement and future engagements, to make way for more diverse people to take their place.

It's a move to be welcomed and shows how sensitive and forward-thinking the people in charge are.

Read About it here from Slipped Dischttps://slippedisc.com/2021/09/english-orchestra-sacks-half-its-players-to-become-more-diverse/
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Do you oppose diversity in Classical performing groups?
No, I don't oppose diversity in classical performing groups. What about you? Do you oppose diversity in classical performing groups?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
One of the most appalling things I have had the misfortune to read. You've been with us for twenty years but you can sod off and we'll employ someone who fits the 'diversity' profile and fills a quota. Whatever happened to the right person for the job regardless of race or creed or the need to fulfil some bizarre politically correct agenda.
Do you oppose diversity in classical performing groups? ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Why would you assume that the minority musicians would not be just as qualified?
I wouldn't make any assumptions at all. Your questions seem odd. I don't understand where you're coming from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Your original post seemed to imply you were against the new policy, I picked up some sarcasm in your post.

This is the last you'll see me here.
I'm definitely against the new policy!

But your questions are non sequiturs. You cannot conclude that because I believe in merit, it naturally follows that I believe minority musicians would not be just as qualified. It's a shame that 'it's the last we'll see of you here', although I suppose your cluttered thinking won't be missed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
One should not sack employees just because they are not minorities anymore than one should sack employees because they are minorities. We will assume that the positions have been open to minorities in the past and would continue to be. So come the next job opening, let the most qualified musician get the position.
There's the rub. They were sacked to make way for people of different characteristics. The emphasis is on personal characteristics that would place them in a certain group, rather than whether their musicianship has merit. It's a topsy turvy world we live in these days!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Not sure what is meant by "freelance engagement", but it sounds as though the individuals concerned were not "sacked" as they were not employees in the conventional sense.

If the orchestra management has held auditions and determined that it wants to engage a new member whose musical skills stand scrutiny, and this means a previously engaged member is no longer engaged, that is a legitimate process.

Lebrecht's article doesn't give the reader much to go on, nor does the statement from the boss of the ETO.

Of course, if playing ability should be the only criterion, "20 years" is irrelevant.
The term 'sacked' is s generic term used when an organisation terminates the services or service of an individual, and that's what is happening here. Whether the individual is engaged for service or services is not going to make any difference to the person losing their livelihood. 20 years is most certainly not irrelevant because it relates to someone's livelihood, how they've been earning a living, in the conventional sense, for a long time. The human impact is enormous.

The statement of the boss makes it very clear to the recipient and anyone reading it, what the reason and consequence of this management decision is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Moved to the politics and religion sub-forum. Please continue to keep the discussion related to the effect of such policies on music and music performance.
I regret that this thread has been moved to a 'politics and religion' sub-forum because it is definitely not about politics or religion, but I welcome your warning to keep on the proper subject as the subject is extremely important and topical for classical music fans (the thread heading I chose is unhelpful and I'm happy for someone to change it).
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This measure taken by ETO bosses represents the early stages of an approach to classical music performance and recording that is certain to have a deleterious effect on the quality of said performances and recordings.

The Sinfonia of London, a pick-up band known for its performance excellence and high quality recordings, received exalted reviews for its recent Prom concert performance of Berg's 7 Early Songs, Ravel's La Valse and Erich Korngold's Symphony. However, one of the reviewers, Rebecca Franks of The Times, tacked on the end of her (Five Star) review, a concern that she felt the band was composed overwhelmingly of 'white men'. On scrutiny, this claim appears not to be safe, but that's neither here nor there.

If the ETO approach is correct, then it should be rolled out to other orchestras including the Sinfonia of London. The deleterious impact on music, musicians and classical music fans is obvious.

As someone born into and brought up in, a majority-black district of London, I have understandably developed a taste for reggae and I'm fortunate in having plenty of gigs around me. I do rather hope that Reggae bands are able to continue without interference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
This thread seems predicated on the complaint that the ETO has ceased to make merit its priority. This would assume that merit was always the priority in the past, and that any resulting lack of diversity was entirely coincidental. Maybe that was the case, maybe it wasn't. But if we're going to subject ETO's new policy to such scrutiny, it may be worthwhile to consider their old one.
The ETO's 'old position' has been considered in as far as it was swiftly concluded to be wrong. But it's not about that - it's about a sensible policy going forward and the ETO's isn't.

And given that the quantity of quality musicians is probably a nil-sum-game, perhaps we should divert talented musicians of colour away from their chosen musical genres and get them into classical performances. For the avoidance of doubt, I'm using irony to illustrate the absurdity of the sort of measures the ETO is implementing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Perhaps we should wait and see what the impact is on the quality of performance before judging the effect of the policy.
No, I think we have a duty not to just stand by - on balance, the impact it will have is rather obvious.

The process for determining who should be engaged has been only sketchily described and possibly premature conclusions drawn by those writing about the matter.
It's very clear as to what the criteria to be applied are - a person's race, sex, gender, marital status and any other of the protected characteristics set out in the Equalities Act 2010 (it's the only way to effect such a measure)

If it turns out that the ETO has breached employment law, then I hope that those "employees" who have suffered get due recompense.
It's not just 'employment law', the Equalities Act covers all aspects of wider society. And whether the musicians are 'employees' is neither here nor there - they enjoy the protection of discrimination and health and safety statutes and I would say the ETO's action may be breach thereof and as such is actionable.

But let's not get too technical about this, the detrimental effect such measures will have on classic music, the musicians, the fans etc is obvious.
 
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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
The ETO refers to guidance from the Arts Council. I'm on my mobile phone so reading large documents isn't easy, but someone might like to take a peek at what's on their website.

https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/guidance-and-resources/culture-change-toolkit#section-1
It's all standard fare, a common or garden diversity in recruitment and appointments toolkit.

The ETO Boss' reference to it is immaterial - his letter as published in Lebrecht's magazine stands on its own two feet.
 
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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
An attempt at greater diversity will have a detrimental effect? That doesn't seem quite so obvious to me.
Depends on the nature of the attempt. This one will.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
It will remain unclear to you while you entertain 'straw-man' arguments.

I'm also not clear that it is their policy to go for diversity at the expense of quality. What do we know about the characteristics of those who have not been reengaged?
Read the letter. They are being fired because they do not fit the diverse criteria and must make way for those that do. This means that they will be wholly or mainly white people, otherwise this action would not be implemented.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 · (Edited)
So it's actually happening - the ETO have terminated the services of musicians on the grounds that their personal characteristics do not fit a diverse set of characteristics and have hired new people on the basis that they do, in line with the ETO Director's recent letter. Shocking.

It might be acceptable, albeit a bit brutal, to have terminated the musicians for the reason of competency or 'artistic fit', and replaced them with 'better' musicians, but to have done so due to the musicians' race, religion/belief, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment &cetera is abominable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
I have some degree of empathy with both sides of the argument, but not with the means the ETO seem to have employed to achieve their goals.
There is no argument. No-one disagrees with having diverse and demographically representative orchestras.
 

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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
Were these new musicians demonstrably better than the musicians they replaced? That's a question to which I would be interested in hearing the answer.
One hopes they are good musicians, but that's not the point. The director of the ETO has explained that competence was not the reason why the the musicians were replaced, it was because of their non-musical personal characteristics.

As I said in post #37 ...

"It might be acceptable, albeit a bit brutal, to have terminated the musicians for the reason of competency or 'artistic fit', and replaced them with 'better' musicians, but to have done so due to the musicians' race, religion/belief, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment &cetera is abominable."

Even if the ETO maintain music standards, as I have previously said, a crack-outfit like the Sinfonia of London won't, if this approach is widened out to other orchestras.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Call me a cynic, but if the ETO did indeed have a 100% (or close to it) white orchestra, it's hard for me to believe "non-musical personal characteristics" haven't played a role in their hiring practices for years.
I wouldn't call you a cynic, but you are dangerously close to implying that 'two wrongs make a right'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
The assumption is always that hiring is meritocratic.
Bit of a sweeping statement! I for one never make such an assumption.

Whether the attempt to "force" diversity into the hiring process is well-intentioned or a good idea is another matter
Actually, it's the matter in hand.

but one should never take it as tacit truth that things were purely meritocratic before the diversity people got their hands on it.
Happily no-one is suggesting that
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
I can see that from the point of view of an individual freelance member of the orchestra, to fail to be engaged for a season when previously in more or less continuous employment with the ETO might seem grossly unfair. But it appears that the basis on which members are hired is on a seasonal basis, and that this is known to those who are engaged. Why else would they be repeatedly auditioned as ingelou described (if I understood her right)?

The two articles I've read about the matter do not seem to me to be wholly unbiased in their reporting. There is more to this than the apparent "sacking" of one set of freelance musicians in favour of another set merely on non-musical capability grounds.

It certainly sounds like a case of a "new broom sweeping clean". That always ruffles feathers.
Read the ETO Director's letter. It's crystal clear. The musicians have been sacked because they do not fit the racial/gender/sex/religious etc profile. There is nothing 'apparent' about it. The one virtue of his letter is that it is unambiguous - one can be in doubt as to why one has been sacked.
 
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