Singing Justice Conference – decentering whiteness in vocal music
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights", according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This should actually be a matter of course - even in the concert business.
However, the reality is different. Even today, in the 21st century, the concert and music scene is still clearly male and white-dominated. Since 2020, the "Singing Justice: Recovering the African American Voice in Song" working group at the University of Michigan's Humanities Collaboratory has been working to change this.
The aim of its multifaceted work is to help Black musicians, composers and artists receive the attention they deserve. This was also the approach of the Singing Justice Conference, which took up this important topic for the first time in Germany in November 2022 with the intention of making Black composers and their works known in Germany - and above all to encourage local performers to take up this repertoire.
"We don't need a colorblind society, we need a society that celebrates the diverse ethnicities in our society" (Thomas Hampson)
In collaboration with the University of Michigan and the Hampsong Foundation and under the patronage of the American star baritone Thomas Hampson, the two-day hybrid symposium presented the entire spectrum of the repertoire of Black composers in classical lecture formats, seminar recitals (a new form of presentation developed by the Michigan working group that actively involves the audience in an interactive mixture of academic lecture and concert) and concerts.
The Singing Justice Conference was just the beginning - the engagement with Black composers continues and, above all, the performance of their works should become a natural part of the repertoire of the International Hugo Wolf Academy. This is what the Singing Justice Conference has campaigned for - and what the IHWA is committed to.