In view of continuing racial disparities, should orchestras eliminate “blind” auditions?

Why Evolution Is True

After two black musicians accused the New York Philharmonic in 1969 of racial discrimination, the Philharmonic, and many other American orchestras, began auditioning prospective members behind a screen, so that neither the race nor the sex of the individual could be discerned. All that mattered was musical quality. (As I recall, women were told not to wear high heels so their sex couldn’t be sussed out by the clack-clack they made as they walked across the stage.)

Now, as a critic in the New York Times argues, while this procedure has been wildly successful in increasing the representation of women in orchestras, the proportion of blacks and Hispanics remain low. The solution, offered in an opinion piece by Anthony Tommasini, the Times‘s head classical-music critic, is to ditch the blind auditions and go back to the way things were. This argument has put me in a bit of a…

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