Professors from Oxford University’s music department have recommended that the school remove sheet music from the curriculum because the music notation has not “shaken off its connection to its colonial past.”
Failing to do so would be a “slap in the face” for students of color, faculty members stated in documents reviewed by Britain’s The Telegraph.
The music department also brought into question the current curriculum, which focuses on composers like Mozart and Beethoven, suggesting that this may be complicit with “white supremacy” as this is “white European music from the slave period.”
According to the documents, Oxford University staff members have further suggested that students should not be required to learn classical musical skills like conducting orchestral arrangements or playing the piano as they “structurally center white European music.”
Instead, the professors who proposed the changes believe the curriculum should broaden its musical offerings to be more inclusive by providing studies of other musical areas including “Global Musics” and “African and African Diasporic Musics.”
This comes days after a Minnesota dinner theater scrapped its production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” because the cast was too white.
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres announced the news last week in a statement, citing its ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“Our hope in beginning the production process again with a new title will allow us to put into practice an intentional process based on the work we have been doing towards equity and inclusivity,” the company explained.
Chanhassen’s artistic director, Michael Brindisi, said his decision was based on the fact that the cast was “90 percent” white.
“That doesn’t work with what we’re saying we’re going to do,” he told St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Brindisi considered recasting, but ultimately decided on a fresh start and, although some actors were disappointed, “every one to a person said they got it and that they respected the very hard decision we had to make,” he said.
The dinner theater has hired a diversity consultant, Kelli Foster Warder, to address theater operations in the future.
“We wanted to meet it head on,” Brindisi said. “We need to fix things and we’re going to do just that.”
The decision was driven by the death of George Floyd last summer while in police custody. Commenting on the event, Brindisi said he realized it was time to “change our culture and make us more diverse and more equitable” as a company.
“We’ve really dug in on diversity, equity and inclusion, the commitment to social justice and getting more diversity into our business across the board,” he added.