Press Release • June 16, 2020


Philadelphia, PA (June 15, 2020) — The Philly POPS announces today the mission and ongoing work of its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Task Force.

The Philly POPS presents, interprets, and performs the best of American popular music. The POPS celebrates the contributions of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds to the unique fabric of that music. The POPS recognizes the role of diverse musicians and culture in our explorations of rock, gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues music. Currently, the POPS orchestra is not demographically representative of the City of Philadelphia.

“We have, over the course of the last five years, attempted incremental change in an effort to provide our community with a more diverse group of musicians on stage.  We understand today that those efforts have not been enough. We look forward to implementing the work of our Task Force and are pleased with their progress in outlining action steps for the days ahead,” said Karen Corbin, Chief Operating Officer of the POPS.

The POPS created the EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Task Force in January 2020. The EDI Task Force is chaired by Terell Stafford, world-renowned trumpeter, Philly POPS Artistic Director for Jazz, Chair of Department of Instrumental Studies and Director of Jazz Studies at Temple University, Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, and Director of All-City Jazz for the School District of Philadelphia.

Other task force members include Tim Warfield and Diane Monroe. Tim Warfield is a credentialed jazz saxophonist who has been featured on over 80 recordings and has collaborated with jazz legends like Christian McBride, Dizzy Gillespie, Donald Byrd, and Shirley Scott. In his role as educator, Tim currently serves as Artist in Residence at Messiah College and Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Jazz Masters of Music Graduate Program at Temple University. Diane is a renowned violinist who has performed as a member of The Philly POPS, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Uptown String Quartet, and the Max Roach Double Quartet. A graduate of Curtis Institute and University of the Arts, Diane has taught at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Swarthmore College, Lehigh University and Temple University. Diane was the recipient of the 2018 Pew Center for Arts and Heritage Fellowship and Project grant awards, and she recently appeared in the film “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which features her original composition, “Vibes.”

The Task Force also includes two Philly POPS staff members: Joshua Thomas, Director of Development and Gilberto Vega, Director of Education and Engagement.

“I was heartened to see the scope of work outlined by the POPS for the EDI Task Force.  While our work will be ongoing, the initial recommendations are designed to impact change,” said Terell Stafford. “We look to a future of inclusion for all of the musicians of Philadelphia.”

In the first phase of its work, the Task Force has concluded with three outcomes, each designed to encourage pathways and access for musicians of color. First, lists of qualified musicians of color, vetted by the Task Force, will be immediately incorporated onto substitute lists. Second, The POPS has not been a “by audition” orchestra in the past. The Task Force recommends that, following three performances, these substitute musicians will advance to final auditions as soon as open seats are created on the POPS’ list of musicians. The Task Force has approved new audition language and protocols designed to encourage access for musicians of color. Finally, the Task Force will present to the Philly POPS Musicians’ Orchestra Committee on its situation analysis and provide proposed governance adjustments before the end of June.

The EDI Task Force will meet again in the coming months to assess progress of these initiatives and will continue to shape Philly POPS equity, diversity, and inclusion policy.