“As our nation struggles with issues of inclusion and racial equity, performing-arts organizations also find themselves reexamining their own core values, to ensure that their activities reflect a changing America,” writes Paul Horsley in Tuesday’s (1/11) Independent (Kansas City, KS). “One institution that has struggled most fervently toward change is the symphony orchestra, which has long been perceived as a bastion of European culture…. In June 2020, the League of American Orchestras took stock of this concern, delivering a vigorous statement on its own racially biased past and its plans for change…. One of the most engaging outcomes of the League’s pledge has been a push toward commissioning new works by BIPOC composers (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)…. This January 28th to 30th, the Kansas City Symphony and Music Director Michael Stern will present a new work by one of the brightest stars on our musical firmament, Joel Thompson: a co-commission led by the Colorado Music Festival, which presented its premiere this past August…. To Awaken the Sleeper uses texts by James Baldwin, which are spoken rather than sung, to express both frustration and cautious hope about America’s future.”