Daily Bow: Is there ANY Good News About Orchestras?


Someone is at least looking for it…

Yesterday, I went on WNYC’s Soundcheck to talk about which orchestras, amid all the dire news of bankruptcies and strikes, might represent a new model, a way of doing things right. I’m not sure my views on the subject were suited to the rubric of “let’s talk positive,” because, as the field is learning very painfully right now, there are no right answers, and there certainly isn’t an answer that fits every orchestra. The problem with orchestras as an institution is that they can create the illusion that art can be institutionalized, when in fact it remains as individual as the people who create it. If you have a visionary, charismatic music director, you’re going to do better than if you have one who isn’t charismatic, however great his ideas are. If you have a terrible board, either too passive or too hands-on, the best artistic agenda in the world isn’t going to pull you out of the hole.

As the author points out towards the end, all the successful initiatives have a few key things in common: “smaller administrations, more flexible concert formats, and higher-than-usual job satisfaction from their musicians.”

What are your thoughts? What do orchestras need to be successful today?

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One Response to Daily Bow: Is there ANY Good News About Orchestras?

  1. Amy Pasker June 16, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    In my opinion, orchestras will continue to dwindle as long as the public continues to be bombarded in every venue by rock, pop, and muzak. Many MANY people have never even HEARD a Mozart or Beethoven Symphony let alone contemporary Classical music. Our orchestras need to reach out to every corner of this country (and the EARTH!) to reach every human being. Opportunities for amateur musicians are extremely scarce these days–and these are the people who LOVE Classical music. Also, small groups from the paid orchestras going into schools, churches, and other venues provide the opportunity for people to see and hear live Classical music. Only 12 years ago, as a professional musician, I was a member of the string quartet sponsored by my orchestra. We played constantly–in schools, for weddings, for gatherings, etc. I performed 50-100 “gigs” per year in addition to my orchestra work, teaching, and other performing–this in a small community of 65,000 people! Now, our orchestra no longer sponsors these groups. I am in a quartet outside of the Symphony that was doing well yet 10 years ago after the Symphony discontinued sponsoring us–in the past two years we have played exactly 6 times!!!!!! There most definitely is an “elitist” attitude about the orchestra because ticket prices are so high only the wealthy can afford them, there are no longer any “free” concerts at the river (or anywhere else for that matter),and advertising for events is extremely expensive and not reliable. There are so many things going awry that, if we don’t start turning them around VERY soon, there will be no symphony orchestras in which my daughter can perform after completing education at Juilliard!!!
    Let’s get out and “MEET THE PUBLIC” again!

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