A Celebration of Freedom: Nashville's Black symphony prepares for debut performance

Posted at 10:07 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-18 09:18:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville’s newest symphony is on a mission to change the course of classical music.

"When you go and see symphonies across America you maybe only see one or two Black people in that symphony along but to see a full wind symphony of Black people that representation matters especially for younger people," said percussionist Torrance Buntyn Jr.

Historically, classical music has not always been inclusive or diverse. A 2016 study by the League of American Orchestras found that non-white musicians made up less than 15 percent of the orchestra population.

"Black people we always have to put in 200 percent just to receive what we normally get," he said.

But music is driving a new wave of artists to challenge what classical music has looked like in the past.

Bruce Ayers is the musical director and founder of the Nashville African American Wind Symphony.

He's been leading the ensemble since September of last year. Every rehearsal has been leading up to their debut performance on Sunday.

Johnny Croft a member of the symphony said he never imagined something like this happening in Nashville.

"You know the cultural history here, but like I said if you want to be part of the change you have to create that space for yourself," he said.

The Nashville African American Wind Symphony debut concert is Sunday at 4 p.m. on Belmont's campus. Tickets are still available.