First and foremost, I think I should define "canon". Here's what Dictionary.com says:
Maybe you can already see where I'm going with this. When we accept the idea of a musical "canon", we're doing a few things that I draw issue with. Accepting the existence of a "canon" in something as broad, wide-ranging, and complex as classical music is accepting the practices that manufactured it. The maintenance of that "canon" is led by people who don't have a problem with the problematic practices that created it. For the sake of speaking more specifically, I'll offer an example:
When people talk about classical music by Black composers these days, William Grant Still is the first name to pop up most times, right? I heard his name in passing for the first time as a senior in college. I didn't actually get to perform an of his symphonic music until about 3 or 4 years ago. Why is this? Because his music isn't as good? Because it's not important to the "canon"? Or is it because the people who wrote the Music History textbooks that I learned from didn't care about black people and black music? The same could be said for Florence Price, Nathaniel Dett, Francis Johnson, Margaret Bonds, and countless others. This issue also outlines the fact that only western-music is considered to be a part of the "canon" - something that another TRILLOQUY guest addressed with me as well. Why should music like this be othered?
I'm happy to say that my organization is interested in this topic, and members of management have thoughtfully engaged this conversation with me in every way they can. It's not an overnight fix, though. The "canon" has been reinforced across generations, and it'll take at least half that long to disrupt it. I don't have anywhere else to be, so I'm down for the long, drawn-out battle.
In what ways are you disrupting the "canon" in your professional life?