In the May 12 issue of San Francisco Classical Voice, Jason Victor Serinus writes about race relations in classical music. “Color doesn’t matter, except when it matters. … How many of us have seen a production of Verdi’s Otello in which Otello, the Moor, was played by a white man without makeup, and his fair wife, Desdemona, the victim of his savage jealousy—I pick my words consciously here—was played by a dark-skinned African-American? Those who attended the Oakland East Bay Symphony’s concert version of the opera’s first act this past March did. Then again, OEBS is no ordinary orchestra. Not only does it boast an African-American music director, Michael Morgan, and an African-American chorus director, Lynne Morrow, but it also makes a concerted effort to reach out to minorities through special themed concerts (such as last season’s Persian New Year concert). … On Friday, May 2, OEBS held a free ‘Forum on Race Relations in Art’ at the Downtown Oakland Senior Center. Using as a springboard the symphony’s recent performances of Otello and the musical Show Boat, which OEBS performs in an abridged concert version at the Paramount Theatre on Friday May 15, panelist G. Reginald Daniel, professor of sociology at UC Santa Barbara, raised a host of provocative questions.”

Posted May 14, 2009