Philharmonic follies

I've enjoyed the attacks Susan Elliott of Musical America has made on The New York Times, for its coverage (and critical remarks about) the New York Philharmonic's recent conductor excitement. We need debate, for God's sake. Music critics -- excuse me, classical music critics -- are far too polite. But I don't quite get why Susan says the Times is "slanted." The critics there don't like Lorin Maazel, the Philharmonic's music director. Susan does like him. But that doesn't make the Times critics "slanted," no matter how often they repeat their … [Read more...]

And about the Times

The Times doesn't report these stories very well. That's quite apart from the Times critics' opinions, which are their own business. I'm talking about the Times's reporting, their purely journalistic coverage, which isn't written by people who know much about the orchestra business. When Ralph Blumenthal used to cover orchestra matters a couple of years ago, he'd get the names of major orchestras wrong, writing (for instance) "Cleveland Symphony" instead of "Cleveland Orchestra," a telltale sign that he wasn't in his comfort zone. Robin … [Read more...]

A word about music directors

As long as I'm talking about the press, I might as well say something about how music critics write about music directors. Or, more specifically, the way they write about how music directors are chosen. Often, critics suggest their own choices for these positions, reasoning, as far as I can tell, something like this: "I like the way X conducts. And if one concert by X is good, a whole season would be even better. I also like the kind of repertoire X conducts, and would like to see my local orchestra do more of that repertoire. So they ought to … [Read more...]

Fun, but…

Subscribers to Musical America had a delightful surprise this morning -- editor Susan Elliott went out and bashed The New York Times. She was reacting to the Times's coverage (linked here) of the New York Philharmonic announcement, about Maazel's contract being extended, Muti coming in regularly to guest-conduct, with still more regular guest-conducting slots for David Robertson and Alan Gilbert. Susan's position was simple enough, starting with her headline: "New York Times Coverage Slanted?" (You have to subscribe to Musical America to read … [Read more...]

The younger audience

As we all know, the classical music world is looking for a new, younger audience. Just today I learned about a chamber music concert where a lot of the audience was young. Turned out these younger people worked for companies that gave money to the group that presented the concert, and they'd gotten free tickets. But still they seemed to love the music. (An obvious question: Does the presenting group have these people's names? It's important to market future concerts to them!) And then at the ASOL conference in Pittsburgh, I met the new … [Read more...]

What I did on my work binge

Not that I wanted a work binge. But for three months, more or less, I've had a life like finals week in college, minus a few days when, with no absolutely immediate deadlines, I simply collapsed, or stole a few moments to do something fun. So in the last month, here's some of the work I've done: -- wrote the script for the last of my Pittsburgh Symphony concerts, and hosted the event -- started work as a consultant for a major orchestra, discussing problems related to finding a new audience -- finished three short canons for three … [Read more...]