The Philadelphia Orchestra announced Nicole Jordan will be its principal librarian, making her the first Black woman to hold a full-time position with the organization since it was founded 120 years ago.
Jordan’s hiring was announced on June 16, according to WHYY. The principal librarian is responsible for maintaining the orchestra’s archives and creating the scores for performances.
“Nicole will be an invaluable partner to me and my colleagues on the stage, and those in the administration, as we look to the future of the Philadelphia Orchestra,” Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the orchestra’s music director, said in a statement.
Matías Tarnopolsky, President and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra, told 6ABC he believes Jordan’s hiring will help the organization “become more and more representative of the communities that we serve.”
Jordan, a Philadelphia native, studied viola performance at University of Minnesota-Duluth before she pursued a master’s degree in music history at Temple University, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. She did an internship with the Philadelphia Orchestra from 2008 to 2011 before she joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She was the first Black person to work as a principal librarian for the Atlanta organization.
“I didn’t set out to make history,” Jordan told 6ABC. “I just set out to kind of do what I love.”
Still, the gravity of these accomplishments is not lost on her.
“We’re in a very interesting place as Black Americans,” she added. “I think we’re coming into our voices. We’re not sitting back and taking no for an answer.”
Marilyn Rife, director of orchestra personnel, oversaw Jordan’s audition process and highlighted several qualities that factored into the hiring decision.
“Clearly, she had the knowledge base,” Rife explained to The Inquirer. “That was very, very strong. But she also had a very warm but direct and thoughtful personality about her. I think of how the orchestra plays, their phrasing. Everything they play is so well thought-out and beautifully executed, and she kind of struck me the same way as a librarian.”
Jordan will start her term during the 2020-21 season.