And now for a word from our guest blogger. This is Anne Midgette, finally getting to fulfill my long-held desire to blog, but for an unfortunate reason. Greg broke his leg on Sunday (he slipped on the ice on our front steps in New York), is going into surgery today (Tuesday), and will be out of commission for a few days (it was a nasty break). He wanted me to let everyone know why he won't be able to post or respond to comments for a while. I guess one could say that this week, for the purposes of this blog, the future of classical music is - … [Read more...]


About why I think the Pittsburgh Symphony things I described are so good... I talked about a pre-concert happening, in which people in the audience could find musicians scattered in various places in the concert hall, playing excerpts from a Jennifer Higdon piece on the program that night. The listeners could talk to the musicians, ask them questions, get to know them. I said that would energize the audience, and make them more excited about the concert. But not simply because they now knew something about the piece! It's a classical music … [Read more...]

Good things — Jennifer Turbes

From one of my Eastman students, Jennifer Turbes, a violist. Like Erika Lange (whose comments I posted earlier), she wrote this in response to some questions I asked on a take-home exam. I'm posting it with her permission: I was recently detained in New York City in the midst of my DMA audition tour. A fine city to spend a few extra days but my experience was stressful rather than invigorating and relaxing. The one satisfying thing I did with my time was attend a symphony orchestra concert--the Minnesota Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. I'm a … [Read more...]

Good things — the Pittsburgh Symphony

In answers to a comment a few posts ago, I made the mistake of saying I'd seen half-full houses at the Pittsburgh Symphony. That was true, but it happened a few seasons ago, and the orchestra is doing much better now. As I should have noted! I was both discourteous and inaccurate. The growth in both total audience and subscriptions in Pittsburgh has been pretty dramatic in the past couple of years, in fact. We could argue about whether this reverses the trend in the industry, since Pittsburgh is recovering from a larger drop in sales and … [Read more...]

A short break

I think we’re really on a roll here, meaning not just me, but readers, too, to judge from the comments I’ve been posting. Posts about good things — real changes happening — are heartening to write, and also seem to be heartening to read. So I’m really sorry that I have to call a brief halt. I’m going away for a short vacation in the sun, as I do around this time every year. While I’m gone, I won’t be going near computers or e-mail, so I won’t be posting, and won’t be able to post comments, either. I’ll be back next Wednesday, and then I’ll … [Read more...]

Good news, bad news

The good news, from a Playbill Arts piece linked on ArtsJournal today: the Baltimore Symphony’s reduced-price subscription plan seems to be working, maybe even spectacularly. The Baltimore Sun reports that when the box office opened last Saturday morning (March 3), about 150 people were already in line at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, ready to snap up the tickets [writes Vivien Schweitzer, who also reviews music for The New York Times]. Music director-designate Marin Alsop was on hand to give out doughnuts to the eager subscribers.… Charles … [Read more...]

Good things: Erika Lange

My Eastman students  (here’s a link to the course I taught) have been writing some terrific final papers. Here’s part of one by Erika Lange, posted of course with her permission. A delight to read, and important as yet another example of how classical music’s future is already here (or, maybe in this case, coming very fast): As a performer of classical music, one would think that I would feel completely at home in a classical concert, but this is not always the case. At times even I feel uncomfortable in the stuffy atmosphere of the concert … [Read more...]

Good things: Greg Anderson

The future of classical music is already here. New ways of doing things are springing up everywhere. It’s exciting, and tremendously hopeful. Many of these new things have proved themselves. They’re no longer experiments; they’re a concrete look at the future. But one problem is that not enough people know about them. These things sprout up individually. There isn’t anywhere you can go — no website, no institution, not even any individual — to find out about them. Information spreads by word of mouth. Often enough, even the people doing these … [Read more...]

Many paths

This came in an e-mail from John Steinmetz, who’s often made comments on blog posts. John had trouble posting it as a comment (sorry, John), and I thought it might as well be a post by itself. I love its good sense, good cheer, and also the necessary dose of realism. Maybe there used to be a sense that there was One Right Way to present classical music—one right repertory, one right standard of quality, and one right way to be an audience member—but there is no longer one right anything. Shifts like this are happening … [Read more...]

The short version

Faithful readers know I’ve said a lot in this blog — here, here, and here, for instance — about the drastic problems that the mainstream classical music world is likely to face in the not so distant future. But I’m always looking for a shorter way to say it. Especially when I’m speaking in public, or semi-public (to a conservatory class, for instance) — not many people want to hear complex statistics. It’s better to cut to the chase. And at last I’ve come up with something. Here it is: The classical music audience is going to shrink, and … [Read more...]

More age footnotes

Here's something I'm told (by a highly reliable source) that Peter Gelb said, at the press conference last week, at which he announced what the Met will do next season. He said that when he started his job, the Met's subscribers were 65 years old -- and that this age this age had shot up from 60 in the five years before that. This, Peter said, he took as a wakeup call. The audience was aging, rapidly; something had to be done. And of course if anyone has such data -- please let me know! I'll post it here immediately. … [Read more...]