We begin with the recognition that we have much to learn about the history of racism in our nation historically, in the moment, and in ourselves. It is time for us to unlearn so very much and to establish a new way forward. For any work that is truly meaningful, we must begin by examining ourselves and our institution. We know there is much work to be done, but we are dedicated to the highest ideals of racial justice, diversity, and inclusion. Moving forward, we will approach this through three levels of action:

1. EDUCATION, LEARNING, AND RECOGNITION

As soon as possible, we will implement anti-racism training for our Board, Orchestra, and Staff. This will give us the tools to understand the damaging effects of racism, whether unconscious or not, in ourselves and our institution. This is a necessary first step towards progress in coming to terms with our quintessential American issue, and is the only way we can hope to build true partnerships and effective programs in the future.

2. LISTENING

We will seek counsel and discussion with representatives of communities of color to have genuine and perhaps difficult discussions about what they see are the needs of this time and how we might together shape partnerships and programs going forward. We in no way intend to add to the emotional burden felt by these communities, who are dealing with so much right now, but we believe it is critical to hear how we can best support this movement directly from them and not make assumptions from our own positions of privilege. These “councils” will involve Board, Philharmonic Musicians, and Staff, but we must be prepared to have them in a true spirit of openness and commitment to effecting lasting change.

3. IMPLEMENTATION

Based on learning, listening, and a truly committed spirit we will implement programs to amplify voices of Black artists, composers, and community. These will range from programming to employment, to governance, to performance, to education and community partnerships.

This will be a lengthy process, but one that we will begin immediately. Across the nation, institutions in our industry and beyond are recognizing the importance of a dedicated time of reflection. This Friday, the nation will celebrate Juneteenth — a day that commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free. This year the holiday is taking on additional meaning, as we mourn the tragic loss of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and too many others. In our communities, our workplaces, and our personal lives, there is a great deal to be done to fully achieve our nation’s ideals of justice and equity for all — and there is a great deal each of us can do.

To create this much-needed time for personal reflection and action, the Philharmonic will pause its operations in observance of Juneteenth — not only this year but annually going forward. We ask that you join us in taking this opportunity to honor the spirit of Juneteenth by intentionally reflecting on the racial injustice still prevalent in our society and the necessary work of anti-racism ahead for us. We hope that you will take the time to focus on taking care of yourselves and one another, process emotions, feel safe, learn more, enable action, and reflect on how we can honestly start down the path of change.

We acknowledge these actions should have been in place earlier, but we believe it’s never too late to do the right thing.

Our best to you as we move through this together,

Jaap van Zweden, Music Director
Peter W. May, Co-Chairman
Oscar Tang, Co-Chairman
Deborah Borda, President and CEO