Statement in support of Phil Ewell

Dear Colleagues,

The Board of Directors of the Music Theory Society of New York State and the editors of the Society’s journal, Theory and Practice, stand in support of Dr. Philip Ewell, a longtime member of the Society who served as its Vice President from 2016–2020. We support and honor Dr. Ewell’s significant contributions to the study of racism and white supremacy in the academic field of music theory, and we applaud his courage in bringing these matters to national attention.

In solidarity with the SMT Executive Board and other regional music theory societies, we condemn the statements of anti-Black racism in several essays published in Volume 12 of the Journal of Schenkerian Studies, as well as the journal’s violation of well-established, equitable editorial procedures: the lack of a conventional peer-review process, the publication of an anonymous submission, and the failure to invite Dr. Ewell to respond to a symposium discussing his work.

In response to Phil Ewell’s July interview, quoted in the advocacy portion of the open letter to SMT, the President of the Music Theory Society of New York State, as authorized by the Board of Directors, acknowledges the following three points: (a) that American music theory is historically rooted in white supremacy, the racist idea that whites are superior to nonwhites; (b) that these white supremacist roots have resulted in racist policies that have benefitted whites and whiteness while disadvantaging nonwhites and nonwhiteness; and (c) that these racist policies have resulted in injustices suffered by BIPOC at all stages of their careers. The President, with the authorization of the Board of Directors, apologizes to all BIPOC who have suffered such injustices without equivocation.  We pledge to undertake ongoing discussions about meaningful actions that MTSNYS can take to mitigate these injustices and to foster a climate of inclusivity and respect.


MTSNYS Board of Directors
Editors of Theory and Practice