Hartford Symphony Orchestra announces Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Hartford Symphony Orchestra announces Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

Hartford, CT (July 31, 2020) – The Hartford Symphony Orchestra believes passionately in making diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our organization not only a priority but a core value.  This value is born of the conviction that inequity, particularly regarding racial and ethnic diversity, is an unacceptable barrier to effective and lasting community engagement, and artistic vitality.

Inspired by the tragic events in our country that have exposed deep and painful divisions, the HSO is making key commitments in five essential areas to bring our conviction to life and effect systemic change, which can also be found here.

“The Symphony’s leadership intends, with Board support, to press forward and make our commitments to diversity and inclusion a reality,” said Edwin Shirley, Chair of the HSO’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.

Representation and Recruitment

  • Increase racial and ethnic diversity within the orchestra:
      • Goal: Reform how we recruit, hire and train HSO musicians to ensure greater racial diversity and better matching of skills and experience to position requirements, beginning with currently open positions.  Additionally:
        • Provide travel assistance and local housing for auditioning musicians of color, if needed.
        • Pay AFM initiation fees and first year dues for new musicians of color, if needed.
        • Prioritize racial and ethnic diversity within the roster of musicians who perform with the HSO on an occasional or supplemental basis (i.e. the “sub list”).
  • Increase racial and ethnic diversity within the Board of Directors:
      • Goal:  Fill no less than 50% of open and new positions with African American, Latinx or other ethnic minority individuals during the next five years.
      • Goal:  Within five years increase racial minority representation from 17% to no less than 30%.
  • Increase racial and ethnic diversity within the administrative staff:
      • Develop specific recruitment strategies to attract racially diverse candidates in partnership with industry experts and best practices.
      • Goal:  Strive to ensure that 50% of all applicants interviewed in person, for all open and newly created positions, are racial minority applicants during the next three years.


  • Invest in implicit bias training for the HSO Board of Directors, staff, and orchestra:
  • Provide training annually for no less than three years, beginning with a financial commitment of no less than $15,000 in the 2020-21 season.
  • Require all newly hired employees, (administration & orchestra), and Board members to complete an introductory anti-racism and implicit bias training session.


  • Prioritize racial and ethnic diversity within all HSO programming, and most urgently, increase racial diversity within the Masterworks concert series to the following annual minimum representation: 
  • 2 guest soloists of African American, Latinx or other ethnic minority background (there are 8 total guest soloists in a typical season)
  • 1 guest conductor of African American, Latinx, other ethnic minority background (there are 3 total guest conductors in a typical season)
  • 6 composers of African American, Latinx, Asian, other ethnic minority background (there are 9 concert programs in a typical season)
  • The 2020 summer season and 2020-21 concert season will be reprogrammed, when concerts resume, to consolidate racial and ethnic diversity, including a minimum of one African American or Latinx soloist, guest conductor or composer in each program (number of programs to be determined).
  • Online programming will feature greater racial and ethnic diversity among guest artists and collaborators, beginning with projects featuring pianist Michelle Cann and violinist Randall Goosby in July and August 2020.

Equity and Access

Transparency and Communication

  • More effectively communicate DEI work internally and to the public:
      • Create pages within the HSO website no later than August 15, 2020 detailing our action plans and milestones.
      • Share our progress internally at all Board of Directors meetings, orchestra town hall meetings, no less than quarterly at staff meetings, as well as in written Executive Director’s Reports (at least four times per year).
      • Consistently share our progress with the public via social media and other HSO digital communications.
      • Watch our Confronting Anti-Black Racism in American Orchestras Panel 

The HSO issued this statement on June 3, 2020: The Hartford Symphony Orchestra is saddened and outraged by the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of those who should have protected him, and by the widespread oppression that has taken the life, liberty and dignity of so many African Americans.  We recognize the gap between our mission to serve every member of our community and our history of inaction in effectively confronting systemic racism and implicit bias.  In solidarity with our Black and brown neighbors, we are committed to look inward, and we acknowledge our responsibility to be a catalyst for change including staff and orchestra training, seeking out diverse talent, and developing more inclusive programming.

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©2018 Hartford Symphony Orchestra
The Bushnell: 166 Capitol Ave. Hartford, CT 06106