Thursday, May 26, 2011

Enticing the Artsy Audience

In our recent discussions about the orchestra, we've been spending a lot of time talking about the audience, and how to get new demographics to the orchestra (and to new music concerts). I have a new question: why does it seem that it's cool to like new art, film, theater and dance, but not necessarily new music?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Real Life Orchestras Playing New Music

I know that many major American orchestras do play new music, but especially with all our recent discussion about the orchestra, I thought this article about the Detroit Symphony Orchestra was particularly interesting. An orchestra with so many problems (striking musicians, huge deficits) might want to play it safe, but instead, they're trying new things, which I definitely applaud.  While 20% isn't that high a percentage for programming new music, it's certainly a start- and for major American orchestras, I think it's a pretty good number.  And they seem to have taken some of Natalie's advice about reaching out to local audiences!

Posted by Sarah

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Composing a Better World, Part III: Articles

In our ongoing discussion of new music and politics, I want to add these two articles to the table:

The Atlantic, D.B. Grady:  Can Classical Music Save the World?

The New York Times (The Score), David T. Little:  Until the Next Revolution

David T. Little's distinction between "revolutionary music" and "critical music" is particularly interesting.

Posted by Natalie

Monday, May 16, 2011

Divide & Conquer: Rethinking Orchestral Programming and Structure

Sarah’s post in defense of the orchestra as an established ensemble is very timely, especially considering how many recent articles have been addressing the financial situation of the modern orchestra and possible solutions (for example, see Anne Midgette’s blog post on the inherent difficulty of standardizing an operational design for the orchestra). It’s not surprising that the orchestra is on our cultural mind, especially with the news that the Philadelphia Orchestra recently filed for bankrupty protection.

The orchestra, as an institution, is suffering from several problems and I will not be able to adequately address them all in this post. However, here are some topics to start with: 1) The classical audience is a fractured audience, 2) The community is a changing concept, 3) Conductors, music directors, and top level administrators don’t need exorbitant salaries.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Don't Blame the Orchestra!

I read a New York Times article recently that made a few conjectures that annoyed me, including this one:
“Some have argued too that there is nothing wrong with orchestras serving — in part — the function of museums, keeping the classics on view.”
I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, to discuss whether the orchestra is “dead” as an institution. I’m not really in the mood to debate that, but I think it’s really sad that people are ready to give up on the orchestra- it’s not the orchestra’s fault, as an ensemble, that it is constantly forced to play the same pieces over and over. (Another quote from the above article: “…you get performances which inspire the phrase: ‘Once you’ve heard one major American symphony orchestra’s Beethoven 5 these days, you’ve pretty much heard them all!’”) It is the conductors, administrators, music directors, programmers, etc.- all the people involved in making repertoire decisions. These are the people who are killing the orchestra, but there is nothing wrong with the orchestra itself. People write new music for orchestra all the time- it just hardly ever gets programmed.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Composing a Better World, Part II: Why do we need new music?

Natalie:  Our most recent discussion in this series addressed the topic of whether or not music has the ability to influence political or social change. Although we concluded that music can have an important political and social role, it was harder for us to determine to what extent art music can really make a concrete difference in creating change. As composers who are interested in what’s going on in the world outside of the music sphere, this disconnect can be frustrating, which brings me to our current topic: Is new music vital to our cultural health (I think it is) and, if so, how and why is it vital? I feel strongly that new music is important, but sometimes it’s hard to believe, especially when art music is largely an esoteric unknown for the average American. Sarah, what do you think?