February 2008 Archives
People in the industry have long held up the South Dakota Symphony as a model of a small orchestra, and having spent two days there I can see why. It performs in Sioux Falls, a city of 150,000 with a metropolitan area of about 200,000. (The entire population of South Dakota is about 750,000, so clearly this is the state's major metropolitan area). The orchestra operates with a balanced budget of around $1.7 million. Six out of the past eight years have been in the black; the two that missed, missed by small amounts...
There seems to have been a good deal written in the music pages of the New York Times recently about both performance style and about the visual element of classical musicians' performances, subjects I have raised in this blog a few times. It began, or at least I first noticed it, in a review of a January Philadelphia Orchestra concert that included Leonard Bernstein's Jeremiah Symphony. Bernard Holland criticized the mezzo soprano soloist for her dramatic gestures, which she obviously felt reflected both the music and the text. The reviewer advised her to stand still and sing and "let the music speak for itself." A few weeks later, Holland followed with an entire column devoted to what he saw as excessive gesturing on the part of many young performers - and argued that this kind of behavior would somehow act as a barrier to developing new and younger audiences...
I've noticed lately more frequent conversations about the visual aspect of symphony orchestra concerts - or, more precisely, about the lack of a significant visual element. But these have not been conversations about video enhancement, colored lighting, or any use of technology. Rather they have been about the look of the stage at a traditional concert...
Some time ago, I wrote a blog expressing some frustration with what I considered to be today's overly "puristic" approach to musical interpretation. I commented that there was significant documentary evidence from the first 50 or 60 years of recordings that in the period ending roughly around 1950 there was a wider range of interpretive possibilities than is the case today. And, I argued, this made for less predictability in our concert (and recording) life, which was a good thing...
On January 19, I spent the day with the Reading Symphony Orchestra in Reading, Pa. Reading is a city of about 90,000, in a metropolitan area of about 300,000. But within that metropolitan area are other orchestras in other communities (Lancaster, York), so they are not the only orchestra serving their area. They have recently appointed a music director, Andrew Constantine. This was quite typical of a day I might spend with an orchestra, and I thought it might be worth sharing with you.
AJ BlogsAJBlogCentral | rss
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
David Jays on theatre and dance
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
John Rockwell on the arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog