Orchestra’s Crescendo Podcast Elevates Diverse Voices

Crescendo Podcast: Amplifying Global Voices (Corina D.)

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Kerri Epps, Middle and Upper School Orchestra teacher, has decided to use a new approach to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion in her teaching by creating the Westridge Crescendo Podcast and starting the Amplifying Global Voices series. 

“I think in music there is often such a focus on a very elite group of composers that we talk about. For example: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, a very specific group that is idolized. As a result, we miss so much of music that has happened around the world over time that it is just as valuable and just as important and should be shared,” said Epps.

With the shift to remote learning, the Orchestra class could no longer play live music together, so Ms. Epps wanted to try something different. She saw podcasts as the perfect medium to elevate voices and to amplify other people, cultures and places around the world.

The series Amplifying Global Voices was created with a total of 28 episodes. Student members of the US Chamber Orchestra each contributed an episode, and they have been working since the beginning of the semester. The podcast takes place every weeknight at 7 p.m. on KWST, Westridge’s new radio station. Each episode can also be found on the Westridge Crescendo Podcast website the day after it is aired. Every episode features an interview with an expert. Students have the opportunity to choose their research focus based on their areas of interest in the field of music. However, topics must be related to an underrepresented minority group, person, place or thing. Examples are addressing or challenging stereotypes and social norms such as gender roles or emphasizing the impact of religion, culture and history on the subject. The goal and purpose was to avoid Western European musical traditions that are heavily taught. 

Podcast Process (Pacific Radio Electronics)

The complicated multi-step process of creating a podcast involves developing a research question, researching for background and context, conducting an interview with an expert, transcribing, writing a script, peer reviewing and recording and editing. Alissa Escarce, a friend of Epps’s who works with radio, visited the class twice and guided them through the different aspects of podcasts.

“We took the musical periods that are labeled as Western European periods medieval, renaissance, baroque, classica, romantic and 20th and 21st century. The question that I asked them was ‘Who are the various contemporaries of these composers at these times?’ I want people to realise that there is so much more to the world than just these people that have been canonized,” said Epps.

Given the creative freedom, students were able to explore and integrate different subjects and areas of interest into one project. Alyssa C. ‘23, the writer, editor and producer of Episode 9: Music Making in 18th Century Convents, said, “I became really interested in European history after taking AP Euro this year, so I knew I wanted to focus my podcast on that area of the world. While I was looking for topic ideas, I found out that most music produced in the 17th and 18th centuries were by female nuns who lived in convents. I found it fascinating to see how the church both influenced and suppressed their music making, so I decided to look further into that topic.” 


Below are three podcast episodes recommended by Spyglass.

Episode 8 – The Silencing of Women Musicians in the Renaissance

Episode 14 – Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Episode 21 – The Values and Misinterpretations Concerning the Native American Ghost Dance of 1890.