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Canton Symphony Podcast Tackles Issues of Diversity in Classical Music

a photo of Rachel Hagemeier and Matthew Jenkins Jarszewicz of the Canton Symphony Orchestra
Canton Symphony Orchestra
Canton Symphony Orchestra podcast hosts education manager Rachel Hagemeier and assistant conductor Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz.

The Canton Symphony Orchestra recently launched a new podcast to talk about problems in the classical music industry. Racial and gender inequality in the profession and appealing to younger and diverse audiences are some of the many issues up for discussion in “Orchestrating Change.”

The podcast, hosted by assistant conductor Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz and education manager Rachel Hagemeier, aims to educate the symphony itself as well as others.

“We don't have to convince ourselves that this is a good thing to do,” Hagemeier said. “We still need to learn a lot about what we would actually need to do to actually create the change.”

The first episode delves into the treatment of women in leadership and white supremacy in the industry. Kelly Corchoran, a former assistant conductor at Canton Symphony who now leads a contemporary music ensemble in Nashville, joined the podcast as its first guest and raised the need for classical music to lift up artists of color already in the industry. The second episode features concert pianist Sara Davis Buechner and her experience as a transgender woman in the field.

“If we're going to continue to be relevant and a deep part of our communities, we have to make sure that we are looking at our communities as a whole, not just the people who come to our concerts,” Hagemeier said.

The podcast hosts want the people who attend symphony concerts to listen to the “Orchestrating Change” podcast, too, and be a part of the change with the organization.

When it comes to attracting younger audiences, Jaroszewicz said one obstacle is much of the symphony's funding is tied to its current audience.

“The financial support of our organization, all orchestras across the United States, we get most of our support from older people, primarily older white people in a high financial stratum,” he said.

Expect this and other challenges to be discussed with a variety of guests to come. New episodes of the podcast drop weekly on Fridays.  

Orchestrating Change - A new podcast by Canton Symphony Orchestra

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Carrie Wise is the deputy editor of arts and culture at Ideastream Public Media.