Phi Beta Cons

Politics Comes to the Conservatory

What does politics have to do with classical music education? If your objective is to train classical musicians to perform at the highest levels, very little. If you view the world through a radical lens, or if you resent high achievement, then you may very well regard politics as an important part of classical music education.

 In the second of three articles on the “existential crisis of the American music school,” Andrew Balio, the principle trumpet player for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, discusses the growing movement to turn conservatories into social justice factories just as in other areas of higher education. At first glance, classical music offers a particularly fat target for class resentment, given its elitist image. Balio dispels that perspective, suggesting that classical music has historically been a true meritocracy that transcended Europe’s traditional rigid class structure.

Of course, such facts are not stopping the social justice warriors and criticism-averse blind mice who run higher education and the arts from going forward with their agenda to place political correctness above skill.

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