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WKU Music Department continuing diversity, equity, and inclusion concert series


Western Kentucky University’s Music Department is working towards improving diversity and inclusion within the program and two upcoming performances are part of that effort.

The department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or DEI committee has two main goals: have a more diverse student body through scholarships and mentorships and create a diverse curriculum for students through a colloquium.

Speakers and performers in the series focus on educational aspects of diversity and discuss how art spaces can be more aware of people who are not normally represented within classical music.

Srirangan Iyer is a WKU junior majoring in math economics who is also a violinist. Iyer grew up learning in the Indian classical space through his parents, but says he can’t apply those lessons to what he’s learning at WKU.

“The way we learn music is very closed minded and I don’t think we really can appreciate how important music is in a global sense or in a very human way if we consider music as regional as we do,” he said.

Isabella Sparling is a WKU junior and vocal performer who is majoring in criminology.

“I personally identify as a Hispanic woman, so when I hear music that’s written by western doesn’t really represent who I feel like I am,” she explained.

Sparling said students in the vocal department students are expected to learn pieces written in German, French, and Italian. “There’s an entire broad spectrum of Latin American music that isn’t even touched on. It’s this massive black hole," she said.

Sparling told WKU Public Radio that the colloquium is representative of what the world looks like today, and what the classical music world should look like.

“It’s not that we want to increase the diversity. We need to acknowledge that there is diversity, and we need to help support those performers in any way we can. And by doing that we can perform music that’s representative of who we are.”

Iyer echoed Sparling’s statement and said that having more representation in the classical music space will promote the growth of diversity.

“If you have people that you know or that you can relate to performing this music, you’re much more likely to go watch it and enjoy it,” he explained. “So, I think the two things, having exposure to performers creates more audiences and that creates more performers.

The Innocents will perform during the series Thursday, March 24, at 7:30 pm. The last performance of the colloquium will be on April 9 at 3:00 pm and features the Chinese Music Club.

Both events will be in Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center on WKU’s campus. They’re free and open to the public.

Former student intern Alana Watson rejoined WKU Public Radio in August 2020 as the Ohio Valley ReSource economics reporter. She transitioned to the station's All Things Considered Host in July of 2020. Watson is a 2017 graduate of Western Kentucky University and has a B.A. in Broadcasting Journalism. She also has her M.A in Communications from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. Watson is a Nashville native and has interned at WPLN-FM in Nashville. In 2019, she won a Tennessee AP Broadcaster & Editors Award for her sports feature on Belmont University's smallest point guard. While at WKU Public Radio she won Best College Radio Reporter in 2016 from the Kentucky Ap Broadcasters Association for her work on post-apartheid South Africa. Watson was previously at Wisconsin Public Radio as thier 2nd Century Fellow where she did general assignment and feature reporting in Milwaukee.