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June 17, 2007

A question (or two) before Resurrection

by Robert Levine

Before I go off to work and Mahler's second symphony, I wanted to pose two thoughts for everyone else.

I. Is Retro good?

Much of the conversation about the state of American orchestras focuses on "bringing American orchestras into the 20th (or 21st) century." But look at Disneyland. They focus on bringing America back to 17th century Jamaica, or 18th century New Orleans, or 19th century Missouri. Look at baseball, and all the new retro ball parks.

Are we looking at this the wrong way? Should we be emphasizing how historic we are, rather than how cutting-edge? If so, how do we do that? Candles on the music stands? Unwashed musicians?

II. What about the rest of the world?

I hear that orchestras are booming in China. I don't know what's happening in Europe, but they seem to be holding their own. Is this relevant? European orchestras, at least, have to deal with some of the same competition (from iPods, the Internet, and steampunk) as do American orchestras? Does their experience tell us anything besides how nice it would be to get large checks from the government?

Posted by rlevine at June 17, 2007 11:28 AM


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