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“It was much more racially and ethnically diverse, but it was also very socioeconomically diverse,” said McIntosh, who is black. “That’s one of the things that I learned going to Hunter. I thought all of the kids were wealthy and that was not true.”

But at least as far back at 1997, faculty members have been devising ways to boost diversity at the school. In a report from that year, a committee on cultural diversity at Hunter College High School recommended a full review of the school’s admissions policies, investigating whether the school could eliminate the admissions testing fee, and developing an anti-discrimination statement.

Several years later, Glenn Kissack, then a math teacher at the school, participated in another review of admissions. After months of studying the small number of “feeder schools” that often produce Hunter students and looking into the expensive test prep available for the exam, the committee suggested potentially reserving more seats for poor students and selecting students based on more than just a single test score.

The committee submitted the report, and months went by with no word from the Hunter administration, Kissack said.

“We could have done something else with our time,” Kissack said. “It gathered dust and didn’t matter.”

Hunter officials would not specifically address most of the recommendations in the reports, but said that the school has been engaged in many discussions over the years about improving diversity. Hunter has implemented many recommendations over the years, they said, including creating a Dean of Diversity position in 2002 and raising private funds for student outreach efforts.

The conflict came to a head in 2010 when the high school faculty selected Justin Hudson, one of the school’s few black students, to address his class at graduation. Hudson tackled the school’s demographics head-on in his speech.

“If you truly believe that the demographics of Hunter represent the distribution of intelligence in this city,” he said, according to an article in the New York Times , “then you must believe that the Upper West Side, Bayside, and Flushing are intrinsically more intelligent than the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Washington Heights. And I refuse to accept that.”

Kevin Park was a junior at Hunter College high school in 2010, when he joined in the standing ovation for Hudson’s speech. He remembers that there were more students named “Kevin” in his grade than there were black students, and felt Hunter lacked faculty and classes that represented Asian students like himself.

After the speech, Park and some classmates created a skit about what it was like to be a black student at Hunter. It depicted assuming college acceptances came easier to black students and how being the only black student in a class can deter speaking up in class, he said.

“That sparked a discussion for a while,” Park said, “but it didn’t necessarily translate into concrete steps or policies.”

The thirty-year-old Irish Rep is particularly well placed to tap into the magic necessary to make a musical soar. That flight begins about fifteen seconds into the director Charlotte Moore’…

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Circle in the Square


The longest running musical in Broadway history (it opened in 1988), based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart.

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New World Stages


Through Aug. 26.

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By Michelle Mercer

Lionel Loueke (left) and James Genus perform in Herbie Hancock’s ensemble at the 39th Montreal International Jazz Festival. (Photo: Benoit Rousseau)

Thundercat performs at the 39th Montreal International Jazz Festival. (Photo: Benoit Rousseau)

Herbie Hancock speaks prior to his performance at the 39th Montreal International Jazz Festival. (Photo: Benoit Rousseau)

Herbie Hancock performs at the 39th Montreal International Jazz Festival. (Photo: Benoit Rousseau)

Last year, Montreal native Leonard Cohen was immortalized in a 20-story mural in the city’s downtown. Cohen’s image now stands out clearly on the skyline, sending a powerful message that art and music are foundational to Montreal’s identity.

The Montreal International Jazz Festival , which ran June 28-July 7, has shaped the city, too: The permanent complex of venues in the Quartier des Spectacles, established in 2003, partly evolved from festival events that have been held in the neighborhood since the early ’80s, when it was a red light district. Now, in its 39th year, few other large festivals feel as well integrated within their host cities. Montreal is a kind of framework upon which the event improvises, making it an ideal place to combine a love of music and travel. Visitors have a chance to play their own changes. For me this year, the sensation of cycling down the scenic Lachine Canal one afternoon carried into Zakir Hussein, Dave Holland and Chris Potter’s pulsing, transporting set that evening. Morning visits to Old Montreal’s gothic revival Notre-Dame Basilica and the Au Papier Japonais shop resonated that night in the jewel tones and fine filigree of Gretchen Parlato’s vocals.

The Montreal festival long has walked the razor’s edge in booking artistic integrity and commercial success with 50 percent corporate sponsorship. On my fifth festival visit—but my first since its 2013 sale to Groupe CH—I noticed a tilting in the direction of business interests. In the U.S. alone, serious fans now can find innovative, richly curated programs at festivals like Newport, Detroit and New York’s Winter Jazzfest . Montreal, meanwhile, seems to be trending toward more reflexive programming of packaged acts—for example, at a closing press conference, organizers said they green-lighted 2018’s misguided SLĀV production on the basis of singer Betty Bonifassi’s previous success at the festival.

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