In any number of orchestras that I have visited recently, it has become clear to me that a big problem, and one not talked about as much as it should be, is communication. I don't mean public relations. I mean internal communication inside the organization.
Recently I was preparing material for some lectures I was giving on a Baltic cruise. The topic for each lecture was a different school of Nordic or Scandinavian music - and the point of the talks was to illustrate unfamiliar music from (in these cases) Estonia, Finland, and Sweden. In talks like this I always try to give musical examples, so I did a lot of listening and then prepared a CD of excerpts. The exercise was fascinating, and it made me focus on the fact that some countries, without the firm and deep and varied connections to the international music scene enjoyed by, say, Germany, Austria, and France, seem to lack the ability to help their best composers develop a place in the repertoire.
On a recent Sunday evening I saw an
example of community engagement - true community
engagement on a musical level - by the Houston Symphony. For a number of years
now, Chevron has sponsored an annual Fiesta
Sinfónica Familiar, a free concert at the orchestra's regular performance
venue, Jones Hall. It has traditionally been conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto,
the Houston Symphony's former associate conductor, but this year it was led by
the rising Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra.
I don't use this space for the
purpose of reviewing artists or performances -- that isn't the reason I choose
to blog. However, every once in a while you encounter an artist who defines
such an ideal about what the performance of music ought to be that it is not
possible, for me at least, to just let it pass. I had such an experience in
July at the New Hampshire Music Festival (in Plymouth), when Gidon Kremer appeared.