Howard strict Asian pilots racist

Asians undesirable: German orchestras and their racism problem

It was all over in thirty seconds. Once again. The audition for a viola position with a renowned Saxon concert orchestra ended with a new disappointment for the young Japanese. Since she was a child, she has been preparing for these seconds that can determine her entire life.

For every single second there are hours of playing scales, days of intonation training, months of practice. In the end, after the first thirty seconds of Hoffmeister's viola concerto, she said “Thank you” and she was able to pack her viola case. The position was given to someone else. She has already experienced this ten times, with orchestras all over Germany.

The 30-year-old Japanese would like to work in an industry that has no shortage of skilled workers, but only a surplus of skilled workers. In the German classical music scene there are many more trained musicians than there are vacancies. Almost every instrumentalist therefore has the bitter experience of being rejected at the audition, usually several times.

But the violist believes there is another reason for her failure. She thinks she's having a harder time than her competitors. Because she's an Asian. “I studied together with a German, with the same professor. We always apply for the same positions. But he gets more than twice as many invitations as I do. "

At first glance, the thought seems absurd. Music knows no borders, they say. Their language is international, it connects the peoples. Anyone who has ever seen the inside of a conservatoire will confirm that. Above all Koreans populate the practice cells there.

Many German musicians have difficulties getting a place at a university. The global competition is great. Studying in Germany is attractive for Asians, but also for Russians and Americans. Many would like to get their final musical polish in the land of Bach, Beethoven and Wagner. And in Germany, studying is usually cheaper.

Last winter semester, 1,045 young people studied music at the University of the Arts (UdK) Berlin. 155 of them came from Asia, around 15 percent. In Munich the proportion of Asians is ten, in Cologne 26 percent. This not only includes instrumentalists, but also other courses such as musicology or music teachers. In other words, such courses that almost only Germans take. The proportion of Asians in the orchestral music courses is therefore significantly higher; in some professorial classes it is up to fifty percent.

The cast lists of German professional orchestras, on the other hand, show a completely different picture. For example in Berlin: The Berlin Philharmonic has 128 members, three of whom come from Asia (Japan). That is 2.3 percent. In the German Symphony Orchestra Berlin (DSO) it is 2.9 percent. At the Saxon Staatskapelle Dresden, the share is particularly low at 1.4 percent.

Of course, nobody knows how many Asian graduates do not want to stay in Germany, but rather return to their homeland. There are no studies on this. The discrepancy in the odds is nevertheless noticeable. Apparently, Asian applicants can rarely prevail in orchestral auditions. That is what the numbers suggest. And that is confirmed by insiders.

The principal clarinet of the Berliner Philharmoniker, Wenzel Fuchs, says: “It's true, we have relatively few Asians in the orchestra. I don't know why that is. Sometimes there are also prejudices in the orchestra. But not for me, I'm married to a Japanese woman. "