After a four-year partnership, two suburban Cobb County high school choruses will not be performing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra this coming fall.
That’s because they’ve been told they are not racially diverse enough.
The Walton High School Chorus has received many honors and performed all over the world.
So, too, has the Lassiter High School Chorus.
But they won’t be back with the ASO for a joint holiday concert this coming December.
11Alive was first alerted to the change by e-mails from some angry parents, none of whom would go on camera.
But a spokesperson for the Cobb County School District confirmed the breakup.
In a response to an 11Alive e-mail, school system communications director Jay Dillon wrote that “the schools were informed by Symphony officials that their choruses are not diverse enough, and that the Symphony would be inviting a third, more diverse chorus.”
Dillon said Walton and Lassiter were still welcome to participate but, “because of limited space, only a portion of the Lassiter and Walton choruses would therefore be able to attend.”
He added that the schools chose not to leave any chorus members behind and “would not be able to perform with the Symphony.”
Dillon also wrote, “Cobb County School District choral programs are open to all students, and participation is determined on the basis of merit alone.”
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra sent us a written reply from marketing VP Charlie Wade.
“We’ve been thrilled with the quality and performance of Lassiter and Walton choruses for four straight years; they are terrific,” Wade wrote. “But we felt it was simply time to let another set of kids participate.”
He said Atlanta’s Grady High School chorus had been added.
Meanwhile, we also asked about the racial diversity of the ASO itself.
A 2008 study by the League of American Orchestras found that 87% of musicians in U.S. symphonies are white.
But Melissa A.E. Sanders, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s senior director of communications, wrote, “It is against our policy to share the race and/or ethnicity of our musicians, so I am unable to share that information.”