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Illustration of Mark Williams from The Globe and Mail
In The News

“It’s Music for Everybody”

TSO CEO Mark Williams Speaks to Report on Business Magazine
December 5, 2022

In the most recent issue of The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine, TSO Chief Executive Officer Mark Williams shared his personal and professional insights on representation in the classical music industry, misconceptions about orchestral music, the need for greater accessibility, and what he wants for the TSO. Below are some of the highlights, as told to writer Alex Mlynek:

On being the first Black man to lead a major North American orchestra

“I’m very proud. I know how important representation is, and my hope is that people will see me and think, If he likes orchestra music, then maybe I could, too. But I’m also quite sad, because it’s 2022, and we’re still talking about the first X…. It’s difficult being the person in that role, because you’re constantly balancing being a symbol and just being the person you are, with all your abilities and foibles.”

On what people get wrong about orchestras

“Many people believe this music is for certain kinds of people—rich people and white people, or a combination of the two. Or that the environment is incredibly rules-based…. None of those things are wholly true. It’s music for everybody, especially at the TSO.”

On how the classical music industry needs to change

“Making the orchestra and classical music accessible is incredibly important to me…. I’m very focused on how we break down barriers so that not only do people have access to what we do, but they feel welcome and wanted in our space…. The goal is to come up with bespoke solutions for each community.”

On his vision for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

“Ultimately, my dream is that the audience for any TSO concert looks like Toronto—has the diversity, the texture, the fun, the depth that this city has. Because when that happens, I’ll know this organization is serving everyone, and it’s of the city.”

Read the full article: