ARTS : Detroit Symphony Hires 2nd Black

From Times wire services

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, facing an effort to block its funding on the basis of racism, said today that it hired its second black musician, a bass player.

The symphony said Richard Robinson, who has been a part-time musician with the orchestra, will join it full-time this fall. Robinson's hiring came after two Detroit legislators threatened to block the symphony's annual allocation of $1.2 million in state funds. The officials charged that the orchestra, based in a predominantly black city, was racist because it has employed only one black player for the last 12 years.

The orchestra had contended that its system of choosing members through "blind" auditions, in which players' identities are not revealed, was the fairest way to choose musicians. Members of the orchestra agreed to waive the selection process so that Robinson, 25, could be hired. State funding has been released to the orchestra.

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