Statement from Early Music America on Discrimination against Asian-identifying Musicians

March 22, 2021

It is deeply upsetting that the recent murders in Atlanta come amid a disturbing rise of anti-Asian violence in North America. Hate has no place at Early Music America. The IDEA task force, board of directors, and staff of EMA includes, respects, and celebrates members of the Asian diaspora, who are an integral part of the early music community. Discrimination against Asian and Asian-identifying musicians has long existed, although too often ignored.

We vehemently condemn all actions borne of hate and are committed to engaging with EMA members and supporters to break down the silos that separate us, to encourage thoughtful debate, and to safeguard the dignity of everyone in our community.

Early music does not exist in a vacuum, but is the product of places and people, many of whom have been systematically denied access to the educational opportunities that might lead to a career or an interest in early music. And the same might be said for those few people of color who have had an opportunity to take this journey, but have struggled to be heard, respected, and accepted as scholars and performers in the field. We must expand our understanding of what “early music” stands for; where it came from and who plays it and enjoys it, now and for our future.

We continue to educate ourselves with more knowledge and understanding to better champion and offer support to all Asian-identifying early musicians and indeed all musicians from underrepresented backgrounds. EMA is committed to fighting racism as part of its commitment to advance inclusion diversity, equity, and access in our own organization, and in supporting our members to do the same.


We invite you to read an opinion piece by Joyce Chen, a member of EMA’s IDEA task force. This piece was originally conceived as a conference paper in 2019. Joyce had been working on it for many months and it was coincidentally due to be published on Monday, March 22; little did we know just how apropos the timing of such an important piece would be. We support and value Joyce’s opinion, and welcome the difficult conversations that emerge.

Since January, EMA’s “Well-Tempered Musician” has offered the early music community free online sessions around physical and mental wellness. The next Mental Health Monday session is today – Monday, March 22, at 7pm ET/4pm PT. You can register here.

The IDEA task force is presenting a panel discussion on Sunday, March 28 at 2pm ET/11am PT with women in early music from underrepresented backgrounds, including Joyce Chen, Emily Lau, Sallynee Amawat, Laury Gutierrez, and Melanie Punter. Topics will include how to improve access to early music and how to create more opportunities for artistic and administrative leadership for women from underrepresented backgrounds.

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