Lying behind almost all the difficulties classical music has (and especially orchestras) is growing lack of interest. I’m fascinated to see that I’m not the only one saying this. It’s just about become a mantra, when classical music trouble develops. It was cited, for instance, as one cause of the New Mexico Symphony bankruptcy, the end of the Syracuse Symphony, and the drastic decline of freelance work for classical musicians in New York.
But at the same time, they have to keep on doing what they already do, to serve their existing audience, which still pays a large part of the bills, even if it’s slowly fading away. So now these poor, beleaguered, cash-strapped institutions have to go in two directions at once. Which adds to their expenses. And the cost squeeze continues.
Looking for hope
I’m going to offer some solutions, though first I’ll have to take my trip to Britain, which starts tomorrow. Solutions, by the way, not just for the orchestra cost squeeze, but for other financial situations I’ve cited earlier, which classical music needs to solve.
Not that I think I have all the answers! Far from it. But I do have some ideas.
I’d also recommend Tony Woodcock’s blog. I’ve mentioned him often. He’s the president of New England Conservatory, and formerly ran orchestras. In four recent posts, he tackles some of classical music’s problems:
“American Orchestras: Yes, It’s a Crisis” — in which Tony says many of the same things I do.“The Coolest Band in the World” — an inspirational post, offering the Berlin Philharmonic as a proven model of a better way to run an orchestra.“How to Miss the Titanic” — again inspirational, this time offering the London Symphony as a proven alternate model.“Special Forces Commando Unit” — in which Tony takes inspiration from NEC students.
(And I should take inspiration from Tony’s titles!)