Brandon Farnsworth

Published On


Page Range

pp. 41–58


  • English

Print Length

18 pages

2. Classical Music has a Diversity Problem

This chapter gives an overview of a recent profusion of statistics on classical music repertoire, performers, and education from across several countries showing how success is overwhelmingly coded as cis-male, white, middle class and European. It argues that improving the inclusivity and equality of classical music conflicts with closely held beliefs in meritocracy and high musical quality, and suggests that explorations of its existing contexts and infrastructures could offer avenues of engagement that better align with contemporary values of inclusivity and equality. To avoid engaging in a politics of visibility that ignores deeper unjust structures, the chapter closes by arguing that creating statistics to make visible inequalities must be the beginning, not the end, of revealing deeper unjust structures collectively and undermining the categories on which statistics are built in the first place.


Brandon Farnsworth

Swiss National Science Foundation postdoctoral researcher in musicology and music curator at Lund University

Brandon Farnsworth is a Swiss National Science Foundation postdoctoral researcher in musicology and music curator based at Lund University, Sweden. His current project, Another Break with Tradition?, is an ethnographic analysis of how diversity initiatives are changing an experimental music festival in Norway. After studying at the Zurich University of the Arts, he completed his PhD in Dresden with the publication Curating Contemporary Music Festivals (2020, Transcript). As a music curator, Brandon has worked on projects with Ultima Festival Oslo, Montreal New Musics Festival, Sonic Matter Zurich, the Berlin New Music Society, and Malmö Konsthall.