Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Creates Diversity Council, Signs Mayor Byron Brown’s Opportunity Pledge

For Immediate Release
Contact:Kate Jenkins
Communications Coordinator
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra


Buffalo, NY — The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra today announced the formation of a Diversity Council as an outgrowth of its burgeoning community engagement program and that the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to sign Mayor Byron Brown’s Opportunity Pledge.

Otis N. Glover of Buffalo Employment and Training Center and Rev. Melody Rutherford of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Cheektowaga Baptist Church have agreed to co-chair the committee along with founding members Jody Covington of Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts; Ruth Kaspiak, former Buffalo Public Schools Board Member; Casimiro D. Rodriguez, Sr. of Hispanic Heritage Council; Ella Robinson of New Beginnings Chorale; Jennifer Parker of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; Rev. Jonathan Staples of Shiloh Baptist Church; Tammy Gaines of African American Cultural Center; Sheila Brown of WUFO AM and BPO musicians Martha Malkiewicz and Robbie Hausmann.

BPO Director of Education and Community Engagement Robin Parkinson commented, “The time is right to forge a stronger network and formalize a structure and way to interact with the diverse communities in our city and region. Many of our founding committee members have been of great help with past BPO projects and we are excited about the energy and enthusiasm this group has for the BPO and the community.”

Co-Chairs Otis N. Glover and Rev. Melody Rutherford said, “Music has always been a unifying agent to all peoples and all times. The Diversity Council seeks to create synergism to engage and encourage all to enthusiastically partake in the distinct musical offerings of the BPO. We view our role as a constant reminder to the orchestra, challenging the continuity of the diversification of its concerts and programming in order to remain a creative and relevant force adding to and highlighting the beauty of our culturally rich region. In addition, it is our desire that every member of the WNY community, regardless of their age, race, and/or socio-economical background, will feel not merely invited, but wholeheartedly received and intimately connected to the BPO through the coalescing agent of music.”

The BPO Board of Trustees endorsement of the Opportunity Pledge goes hand in hand with the formation of the Diversity Council. “The Opportunity Pledge speaks to the same commitment and goals the BPO has been working toward, so it is important for us to sign the pledge and let others know how important we think it is for the community,” said Daniel Hart, Executive Director of the BPO. Formal signing of the Opportunity Pledge takes place on Friday, July 22, 2016 at 7 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall.
“I thank the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Maestro JoAnn Falletta, and the recently formed BPO Diversity Council for helping us promote our shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by supporting and signing the Buffalo Opportunity Pledge,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown, noting that to date over 5,500 individuals and 372 businesses and organizations in Buffalo have signed the pledge, representing over 180,000 employees and members. “I thank the BPO Diversity Council for partnering with us to build a culture of respect for diversity, inclusion and equity as core values of our city. Music is a universal language, uniting all of us, and this commitment reinforces those values.”

Brown will be in attendance at the formal signing, prior to the BPO’s Fantasy Camp concert, featuring amateur musicians from around the world performing side-by-side with the Buffalo Philharmonic under the direction of JoAnn Falletta. The concert will also serve as a thank-you to the orchestra’s donors and subscribers. More than 2000 are expected to attend this event.

The committee will assist the BPO with its operating practices including five specific goals as follows:

  1. To feature artists of color (soloists, conductors, composers) annually in our concert offerings whether it be Classics, Pops, Family, Rock, Education and/or Community Engagement concerts.
  2. To create programs tied to community events and history that are relevant to diverse audiences such as Martin Luther King Day Celebration and Hispanic Heritage Month.
  3. To establish partnerships with diverse organizations and colleagues and collaborate with them on programs.
  4. To support music education in underserved areas and encourage broad participation in music programs.
  5. To seek diversity at all levels of the organization including the Board of Trustees, staff, volunteers and the orchestra itself.

The attached graphic entitled  Circles of Committment records the recent work toward these goals. With this history as a base, the committee will help build on the successes for future seasons.


As Buffalo’s cultural ambassador, the Grammy Award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of music director JoAnn Falletta presents more than 100 concerts each year. Since 1940, the orchestra’s home has been Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark with a reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. During the tenure of JoAnn Falletta, the BPO has rekindled its history of radio broadcasts and recordings, including the release of 37 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit www.bpo.org.


# # #