Changing an 'abysmal' stat

Image credit: Photograph by Natalie McCray Krauz

Fewer than 2 percent of professional classical musicians in the U.S. are African-American, according to the League of American Orchestras. Terrance Patterson, Peab '89, has a word for this stat: "abysmal." It's what led him to found the Ritz Chamber Players in his native Jacksonville, Florida, in 2002. The all-African-American chamber orchestra gives dozens of free performances a year, does educational outreach in schools, and plays Beethoven and Brahms alongside the works of black composers, like George Theophilus Walker.

Patterson fell in love with the classical canon as a child listening to the radio. But he worries that black youngsters can feel alienated when they first attend a concert. "They see no one that looks like them onstage—there's no one to tell them that we are invited to participate in this art form," he says. "We want to start down a path of diversity, not only on the stage but in the audience as well." BRENNEN JENSEN

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