Steven Banks, a master’s saxophone student of Taimur Sullivan at the Bienen School of Music, will speak about diversity and inclusion in classical music at the upcoming TEDxNorthwesternU 2017 Conference.

The event will be held Saturday, April 15, in the McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive in Evanston. Tickets are sold out but all talks will be available on YouTube following the conference.

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share ideas. This year’s conference theme, “The Power of Intention,” encapsulates how intention is a powerful source of creativity and the fuel to manifesting one’s goals and passions at Northwestern and around the world. A total of nine speakers will be featured at the event, including four Northwestern students. 

In his talk, Banks will explore how people of all backgrounds can come together to combat internalized racism and create change. He argues that classical music is beautiful, enlightening, and transformative, but it can also be elitist and exclusive.

“Most people remain unaware of the oppressive qualities within the field, including creative exclusion and isolation, particularly on minorities. I, and many of my minority colleagues, feel silenced because the people around me can’t understand what it’s like to be a minority in an overwhelmingly white field,” he says.

Banks is passionate about raising awareness for diversity in classical music and empowering minorities to pursue the arts. “As a black male classical musician, it is my responsibility to expose the breadth and weight of the consequences of racial exclusion. Intentionally fighting these wrongdoings will encourage the diversity and inclusion we need.”

Described as “a breathtaking performer” by the Classical Voice of North Carolina, Steven Banks performs nationwide as a soloist and as the baritone saxophonist of the award-winning Kenari Quartet. He has won top prizes in several competitions, including first prizes in the Indiana University Woodwind Concerto Competition, Joseph M. Bryan Concerto Competition, and the Durham Symphony Young Artist Competition. Banks received his bachelor’s degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with Otis Murphy.

  • Taimur Sullivan