Warmest holiday wishes

rafa Xmas 2011

I hardly have to say what I'm happiest about this Christmas. My little son Rafa, who -- if I followed my deepest heart -- would be in every post I make here. If you get my newsletter, you've already seen this image, which (no surprise) also doubles as our Christmas card. (And if you don't get my newsletter, and would like to, you can subscribe to it here.) Rafa is such a joy, maybe the greatest joy I've ever had. He teaches me what's most important in life. And for all of you, all my readers -- for whom I'm so grateful -- I hope you … [Read more...]

Last orchestra photos this year

blog - australian bburg 2

Well…the thread is calming down. With its flood of comments. See my previous posts -- I complain that orchestra photos are very bad, and then, in response to comments, I post two installments of better ones, suggested by readers, here and here.  But I do want to show some other photos readers sent me, or led me to. On Facebook, Julian Day, a composer and radio producer I met in Australia, said the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, a period instrument group, has lively photos. For instance: And Julian seconded my thought, in my … [Read more...]

More better photos

blog bso 1

More suggestions for good photos of orchestras, and orchestra musicians: Katie Kellert wrote, in the comments to my first post, in which I complained about how boring orchestra photos are: I got a big kick out of the alternate shots the Baltimore Symphony did for their members' bio pages a while back (For instance, Rene Hernandez and Chris Wolfe, showing them with items that seem to reflect their interests outside of music. I also found it telling that a lot of them chose to just have another photo with their instrument... it sort of reads … [Read more...]

Better orchestra photos

blog NZSO 3

So many thanks to people who commented on my last post! I complained about boring photos of orchestras in that post, and several people offered links to better ones. What I'm going to do now is pass on those links, along with some photos, and ask what people think. Are these photos improvements? How, why? Or how could they be better? I'll save any thoughts I might have for later. Right now, I want your opinion! I'll do this in two or three posts. Here's a start: Robbie Ellis mentioned an orchestra he's been involved with, as composer … [Read more...]

Boring, boring, boring

Photos of orchestras almost always look boring

A footnote -- or an intermezzo -- in the midst of what I've been saying about how orchestras should talk about themselves. (Here and here.) Whenever I do a post, I look for an image, to give the page at least a little sizzle. So to find one for my last post, I Googled "orchestra," and clicked on "images." The results were ghastly. Utterly boring. Pointless. And these  (most, if not all) are official photos released by the orchestra managements. What's the point of them? What do they tell us? An orchestra is made up of musicians, … [Read more...]

Orchestral challenge — second post

Why aren't your concerts exciting?

In my last post, I urged orchestras not to worry so much about what their audience likes, and to program music they themselves like. Presenting to the world something more vivid, more individual, more compelling than (to paraphrase the kind of language so often found in orchestra publicity) "Tchaikovsky's beloved violin concerto." The concerto, please note, isn't the problem. It's the language used to talk about it. Better to say (if you dared), "The concerto our soloist loves the most, but also the one that drives her crazy because it's … [Read more...]

A challenge for orchestras


Not so long ago, I happened to have dinner with a businessman -- CEO of his not so small company -- who'd been asked to join the board of his local orchestra. His take on the orchestra business, speaking as a businessman: All American orchestras seem to do more or less the same thing, and all of them are in trouble. Therefore the business model doesn't work. Seems simple enough. And a lot of people would agree. But what's being done to change the business model? My suggestion to this man, assuming he did join the board: First make sure … [Read more...]