WATCH | How this classical conductor is getting the world in tune with equality
Above all else, the ancient but enduring art of classical music requires passion. And Brandon Keith Brown is full of zeal.
“If Mozart was going to be hit by a bus, I would jump in front of the bus,” he says.
Brown lives and works in Berlin, not just pursuing euphonic mastery, but social change as well.
As a black conductor, he has been questioned, vilified, and scrutinised. But Brown’s not going to be booed off stage. He’s got a job to do.
For centuries, concert halls and stages of the world have been reserved for the white elite.
Among countless conductors and composers, a handful have been people of colour.
“I have a number of challenges,” Brown says. “A conductor needs to be white, older, accented, and European.”
But through his position, he is challenging an industry and art form that has traditionally been structured to exclude him.
In the face of systemic racism, Brown is undeterred in his mission. “It’s getting this implicit bias out of people’s minds,” he says. “What I want to do is to be able to sit as many different types of people in a room as possible and get them to feel the same thing.”
From soaring sonatas to crashing concertos, the transcendent language of melody and rhythm belongs to everybody.
Brown is adamant that the pleasure of appreciating, understanding, and performing classical music should not be dominated by a homogenous group any longer.
A frequent guest on podcasts and interviews, he advocates for the dismantling of racist strongholds on society.
Neither audience members nor performers should be restricted in their access to classical music.
“If you want to conduct, don’t listen to anyone else,” Brown says. “Just go for it.”