January 17, 2022, 12:56 | Updated: January 17, 2022, 1:06 PM
A newly formed music company has been slammed on Twitter for its ‘racist’ and ‘exclusionary’ mission statement.
Twitter has been awash with debate after a composer shared an email he received from the so-called “Society for the Preservation of Western Music” (SPWM).
On Sunday night, composer Spencer Arias tweeted a screenshot of an email he received from the new music company, which claims to be dedicated to “preserving” certain elements of the genre.
The email begins with a simple call for scholars to write for a new journal run by the SPWM organization. However, the subsequent mission statement at the bottom of the email sparked outrage among classical musicians on the social media platform.
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“Founded in 2021, the Society for the Preservation of Western Music (SPWM) seeks to actively promote the canonical masterpieces of the Western classical tradition from antiquity to the present day,” reads the captured post.
He continues, “As a consortium of a dozen composition and theory teachers across the United States and Canada in response to the virulent spread of identity-based concert programming, the SPWM currently has a roster of more than 100 members, ardent defenders of the foundations of our traditionally Western artistic practices.
two sentences are the key to reading this:
– “virulent diffusion” (in reference to the composers of BIPOC)
– “Solidarity” 🙄 after all that https://t.co/yIaqsfr1Wp
— Brian Sengdala (@CheersBVS) January 17, 2022
Twitter reacted mostly negatively to the email, with the majority of the nearly 200 retweets questioning the nuances of the message, such as “virulent spreading” – a term used to describe how viruses replicate – referring to concert programming based on “identity”. ”.
The company’s mass email was allegedly sent to a majority of “queer and BIPOC songwriters”, leading some to believe the message takes the form of harassment and attacks on underrepresented songwriters.
Read more: 63% of black musicians have experienced racism in the UK music industry, new report finds
🚨 ‘Viral.’ 🚨
It seems most of the musicians and musicologists who have gotten this are BIPOC, queer and/or female, which makes this particular variation on the messy “death of the West” not only desperate in its wickedness and fragility, but also in targeted harassment. https://t.co/l45UIwSl3s
— Ben Liberatore (@terratologist) January 17, 2022
Some have since suggested, perhaps hoping, that it could simply be a “troll” email (an online joke designed to provoke a reaction), dreamed up by an individual.
I posted this before I came to the conclusion that I think it might be a one man job designed to troll and elicit this type of reaction
—Spencer Arias (@SpencerArias) January 17, 2022
However, due to the division this debate is causing in the industry, many said the email was all too believable. Some have even suggested that society – real or fake – is actually a reflection of the programmatic bias that mainstream institutions can also be found guilty of.
Read more: Barbican staff say world-renowned arts center is ‘institutionally racist’
The *classical music industry* is already a society for the preservation of Western music! And we have to ask ourselves: what exactly is the difference between the agenda of this incoherent and racist “society” and what mainstream institutions implicitly support *every day*?
— Judd Greenstein (@juddgreenstein) January 17, 2022
A unifying factor that many engaged in this conversation have discovered is that when searching for this alleged company online, the majority of results show bands that promote the preservation of country and western music.
Read more: The greatest western music
The only good thing about this is that when you google this “organization” all results are for bands that promote and preserve western music, like country and western. It is a mission that I can carry out. https://t.co/k5YIk6bc3i
— Ethan Hein (@ethanhein) January 17, 2022
A final retaliation to this e-mail comes in the form of a purchase of the domain name spwesternmusic.comwhich now redirects to the website – www.andwewereheard.org; a platform for underrepresented composers to have their works heard.