New Award Aims To Recognize Programming Excellence

The Society of Composing Tradition issued a press statement today announcing a new award for orchestras that embrace what it defines as “programming music from composers that have a proven track record of success.”

April 1, 2019


Program will formalize a system of constructed criteria to recognize effective programming from core and living composers.

NEW YORK, 4/1/2019: The Society of Composing Tradition believes the practice of highlighting composers from what are commonly referred to as “diversity groups” only serves to diminish the reputation of those composers, and contributes to a culture that is skeptical as to whether the music of those people truly deserves to be heard alongside that of the established composers of core repertoire.

Curation without consideration for whether a composer is living, his gender, or his race has a proven track record of success, and will contribute to a future in which the question becomes moot because it will no longer need to be asked, not even sotto voce.

Therefore, the Society is proud to introduce the award for Courageous Programming of Traditional Repertoire.

Rather than fostering harmony and integration, preferences regarding gender, race, and whether or not a composer is living threaten to minimize the frequency of programming music from composers whose works have a valued history of connecting with audiences,” said Society President John Smith. “While efforts to highlight music from certain groups of composers may be on the rise, those efforts unwittingly serve to marginalize and discriminate against the full range of our organization’s composers, both living and deceased. We want to recognize the courage it takes in today’s environment to program music from composers who have a proven track record of success.”

In addition to recognizing orchestras that embrace traditional programming, the Society plans to highlight organizations that have leveraged music from living composers that reinforce traditional styles.

“The Society’s research demonstrates that incorporating a reasonable percentage of works from living composers can reinforce ticket revenue, provided those works closely internalize the artistic parameters of traditional repertoire,” said Smith. “It’s not the fault of living white male composers that their works are more frequently selected by orchestras and, it’s no coincidence these works are well received by audiences. We want orchestras to understand the risks associated with this trendy fad of diversity for the sake of diversity, and acknowledge groups that avoid ratio-based programming.”

The Society plans on announcing the recipients for the inaugural award during its annual conference this June.


The Society of Composing Tradition promotes the works of classical music composers, both living and deceased. Programs reinforce a history of artistic accomplishment and seek to help living composers and orchestras continue those traditions.

Board of Directors
John Smith, President
Robert Jones, Vice-President
Luke Miller, Secretary
Bradley Williams, Treasurer

Advisory Council
Hamilton G. Fantomos
Walter White
Thomas Collins
Dylan Maxwell
Brett Dylan
Max Brett
Hunter Gatherer
Pete White
William Whalen
Kevin Ward
Augustus St. Cloud

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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