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Concert Hall in Spanish

Por Laura Pérez Rangel
December 2021
History has permeated the arts, their spaces, and institutions of elitist dyes, making them inaccessible to the public who may not be too accustomed to them. Symphonic music has its origins in patronage and wealth, and although it could achieve greater diversity and variety in its audience, the institutions responsible for making these changes are still adapting to this reality.
I don't know if any of the people who read this have seen a live orchestra, but I tell them that it is not necessary to have previous training or some connection with symphonic music to be able to enjoy it. The concert hall –and indeed any cultural venue– should feel like a place open to all, and that is the message I want to convey.

It is rare to see posters or advertisements in Spanish in cultural centers such as concert halls and museums. It is as if it were assumed that there are no Spanish speakers in these spaces, or that they are not open spaces to Hispanic guests when Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the United States, with 42 million speakers. That's why the concert hall must stop being intimidating to its audience and begin to be accessible to other generations and audiences, and that can be achieved by creating strategies for diversification, both of your audience and of what is presented on stage. Cultural spaces should be open to the community, especially our neighbors, to the local, and the local includes a vast community of Spanish speakers.

La Voz magazine has been supporting me significantly for the invitations of our last two concerts to reach the Hispanic population of the Hudson Valley, exercising language justice, which is one of its fundamental pillars as an organization. To use posters in Spanish to promote any event is to recognize the existence of the neighbor and connect with the near, with a community that is interested in this type of event, as we have realized with the series of concerts in Spanish that we have been presenting with La Voz. 

With regard to what is presented on the stage: There is a lot of work to do, and it can become difficult to challenge the rigid structures of what should be and should not be taught or done in an institution as canonical as the conservatory is, but it is a job that new generations of musicians are doing. 

Bard College has been a good place to start these changes: The Music Mentors Initiative, led by Blanche Darr and Aleksandar Vitanov, is one of the best examples in this regard, empowering future generations of musicians. This initiative provides free individual classes along with a team of Bard conservatory student volunteers.

I thank the La Voz magazine, Ann Gabler, and Tricia Reed for the logistical support that made it possible to give tickets out of courtesy to some members of the audience who accompanied us at Mahler and Planets concerts and to thank the Bard Conservatory for supporting their students' initiatives, they will, after all, be the musicians of tomorrow.
We as musicians offer our art and our spirit so that the public leaves the concert hall renewed and with a pleasant experience, and you as the public are the sustenance and purpose of our profession. Therefore, it is important to realize this kind of scope: The local, the public who feels a connection with his orchestra, and our audience are inherently diverse, and it is our duty as cultural entities to adapt to that reality.

For more information on Bard's Music Mentoring Initiative, send an email to lp3158@bard.edu 


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