Arts Engines: Interview with CCM Flute Professor DeMarre McGill

The flutist discussed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and inspiring future performing artists

Demarre McGill, Associate Professor of Flute at UC's College-Conservatory of Music and Principal Flutist at the Seattle Symphony, spoke with Aaron Dworkin on Arts Engines for a conversation about DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) in American music conservatories. Watch the full interview

"There are things that I see being done. I was pleased with the drive and I hate to even say interest and problem solving within CCM as an institution," McGill says. He adds that conservatories should create an environment that is reflective of America, one that welcomes and values unique backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. He acknowledges that his own studio doesn't look like America yet, but it needs to.

McGill is a member on CCM's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, which strives to create and maintain an equitable environment of belonging at the college. He also leads CCM's Amplified Voices series with Cello Professor Alan Rafferty. Amplified Voices is a new series intended to promote and connect trailblazing Black artists to the students and faculty of CCM. Amplified Voices seeks to create opportunities for the CCM community to learn more about the variety of Black artistry happening around the country. 

When asked about what conservatories can do to increase the number of diverse students enrolled, McGill replied, “We need to go to people and hand them a personal invitation and say, ‘You are welcome. We want you and we need you and we value you’. McGill stresses the importance of the work that must be done by educators to diversify representation in the classical music industry. “If I hear about a young Black flutist, I want to actually talk to them. I want to let them know that this is a welcome environment.”

"It's up to me, it's up to the school, it's up to my collegaues to go into any and every community that we want in our studio, not to expect them to come to us."

Demarre McGill and his brother Anthony, who is the principal clarinetist for the New York Philharmonic, are regarded as some of the most talented wind players in the industry. However, they are part of only a small number of Black musicians who hold professional orchestral positions in the US. McGill's advice to other BIPOC musicians seeking a career who may be disheartened by these statistics is to remove the word "can't" from their vocabulary.

“Know exactly what you're going to accomplish and craft exactly how you would express that...so be careful with your words and use those words to set clear goals." He adds: "Be the best version of yourself as often as you can, because you never know who's listenting to you."

CCM's 2021-22 Amplified Voices series kicks off with a movie presentation of CCM Oboe Professor Titus Underwood’s A Tale of Two Tails on Monday, November 22 at 6 p.m. in the MainStreet Cinema at UC's Tangeman University Center. Following the movie, there will be a Q&A with Underwood and CCM alumnus Titilayo Ayangade (BM Cello, '14), who served as Director of Photography for the project. This event is free and open to the public. Learn more.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZI90V5lOBG4?rel=0

Headshot of Jaime Sharp

Jaime Sharp

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Jaime Sharp is a master's student studying Vocal Performance at CCM. She serves as the Vice President of the CCM Graduate Student Association and Student Liaison for the CCM DEI Committee. Jaime holds a bachelor's from the University of Michigan.

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