“When I came back to America I was trying to get jobs with bigger orchestras, but they were not interested. One orchestra told me they like my conducting and the board thought I had great ideas, but they didn’t know how to market me,” said Johnson.
“When I asked him for clarity, the guy on the search committee basically said, ‘You just don’t look like what our audience would expect a conductor to look like.’ That’s when I founded my own orchestra.”

She’s a woman. She’s African American. So an audience can’t handle those things? Or maybe just the guy on the search committee?

Well, okay … she even says that audiences expect something else. (There are a number of videos you can watch from this same place if you go here.)

So Jeri Lynne Johnson formed her own orchestra, the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra. Kudos to her!

I read it here.


  1. patti with an i

    I know of one orchestra in the US where the board chair is reliably reported to have stated at the outset of the process that as long as she had anything to do with the organization there would be no “blacks, Jews, Chinese, or women” on the podium. Even white guys are sometimes out of luck if they’re homegrown and come up against an orchestra that thinks they’re “ready for a European conductor now.” It’s bordering on criminal that such people have the power to make these decisions, but they do.

  2. Just incredibly sad and pathetic and makes me angry, patti with an i. Truly. It IS criminal. Sigh.