an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Vote now for the best and worst orchestras of 2012

These are the final choices on the ballot sheet. You can vote for one orch in each category. All votes must be in by Thursday midnight. The criteria for selection are outlined here. All stories can be searched further in Slipped Disc.

For best orchestra of 2012

Los Angeles Phil Advanced Brand Dudamel to all four corners of the earth, split a Mahler cycle between US and Venezuela

Chicago Despite short strike, sounding happier under Muti, travelling wider

Detroit Out of strike zone, online, on-air, looking years ahead.

Sao Paolo First Lat-Am orch to go global

Tonhalle Zurich Took huge risk on 26 yr-old music director, going boldly for renewal

Qatar Phil - Hired 29 yr-old woman as music director in bid to shake off ancient prejudices

Orquesta de Extremadura Survived against impossible odds in remote part of Spain

@twtrsymphony Breaking new ground

Philharmonia Launched a groundbreaking app.

Berlin Phil Signed brilliant tech deal with Sony, plus the usual reasons

orchestra river

Worst orchs of 2012

Malaysian Phiharmonic Fired 9 foreign players, got placed on international boycott

Johnnesburg Phil Shut down

Minnesota Locked its players out

Atlanta Likewise, with menaces

OSR Geneva Fired new manager, mired in squabbles

Israel Phil Still no Arab players, and rough on guest conductors

Vienna Phil Lost its trombone section, still resistant to women

London Philharmonic Lost 15% of its business, sacrificed player control, played two venues on the same night

Berlin Phil Behaved badly in Salzburg, stumbling in Baden-Baden, all the usual reasons.

Ulster Orchestra Faces being shrunk to chamber orch

There’s still room to add more, but time’s getting short…


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. My votes:

    Best: LA Philharmonic. For making tangible efforts to reflect our multicultural society and mostly avoid business-as-usual programming.

    Worst: Vienna Philharmonic. An over-hyped bastion of backwards thinking towards women. If allowed a runner-up vote, Minnesota would win that hands down.

  2. With women representing only 14% of its personnel thirty years after agreeing to admit them, Berlin suffers from problems similar to Vienna’s. They have made progress, but it has been unnecessarily slow.

  3. Michael Hurshell says:

    Re Vienna: no question that the non-hiring of women would place it high on the “bad” list – IF this were a contest about morals. But the BRAND Wiener Philharmoniker is still as successful as it ever was. The New Year’s concert is still one of the most widely watched events on world wide TV. The recordings still outsell others after half a century (example: Solti Ring). And on top of that they are still one of the most unbelievable sounding bands ever. If the world were a more just place, the VPO’s attitude toward hiring female players would no doubt have trashed the brand by now… but the world isn’t, and the brand is right up there. As Hofmannsthal says: “San halt aso…”

    • We should also remember the VPO has a history of discrimination against Asians. Whether or not the orchestra sells records, its name is inextricably tied to racism and especially sexism. That is poor branding.

      • Brian Hughes says:

        Despite its problems with discrimination, it is hard to argue with the VPO “brand.” AND, let’s be honest, it’s “their” (the players, right?) orchestra and they should be allowed to operate the organization as they wish. If individuals have difficulties with their racism, sexism, etc. (and I’m not brushing these off lightly) then don’t buy recordings, attend performances, watch the New Year’s gala on TV. The VPO “brand” still stands for tradition and excellence, throughout its history.

        • The VPO is the same orchestra as the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. It is against both Austrian and European law for public institutions to discriminate on the basis of race or sex.

        • Michael Endres says:

          I do enjoy the unique sound of VPO immensely,and it is absolutely their business how they run their highly successful orchestra. The VPO certainly contributes more to musical life than self appointed PC watchdogs,who’s only interest in music seems to be that a certain quota is achieved.
          This survey seems to be about extra musical affairs . The Tonhalle , the Philharmonia and the Quatar Phil above the VPO ?
          This survey reminds me of totalitarian East Germany,where the right political attitude was the decisive factor in all affairs,never the actual quality. PC correctness is the new religion.
          If one does not comply one’s ” name is inextricably tied to racism and especially sexism”. The VPO’s is all over the world considered as one of the top orchestras with a unique sound,not found in any other band. But that does not even get mentioned any more, so it seems. It simply does not count. What solely counts is the missing quota……

          • People recognize both the musical qualities of the VPO and its social problems. Solving those problems will help insure the future of the orchestra. As one example, almost all of the young players of the Vienna oboe are girls. By resisting women the orchestra puts the Philharmonic’s style in jeopardy.

  4. Christopher Oakmount says:

    I agree that Vienna has a rotten record on female hiring, however:

    The VPO lost two excellent players, including ONE of their principals, but they did NOT lose their trombone section which . It is still unclear if they were really bullied out of the orchestra, as many suggest, or if other factors (like interesting job alternatives or simply English native speakers wanting to return to an English speaking country to their families and friends) played a role.

  5. Sam McElroy says:

    In the last three years I have had fortunate occasion to hear many top orchestras all over the world, most of which are wonderful, of course, but some of which are comatose. BUT, the best SOUND, the best musical experience BY FAR has come from an orchestra that will certainly not feature on the list, because it is not yet a worldwide brand, nor does it try to be, or aspire to be, or attempt to monetize itself. A multi-cultural gathering, it is assembled every summer by audition, holds a residency in a random corner of the Americas, then tours adventurous programs and infectious enthusiasm throughout whatever territory is lucky enough to have it that year. Its leader is the absolutely wonderful Carlos Miguel Prieto. Any guesses?

    The Youth Orchestra of the Americas, or the YOA as we know it. I will NEVER forget their Brahms no.1 or Shostakovich no.10, in Colombia, 2010. Returning after that summer to hear certain North American “professional” orchestras was like checking out of the George V and into a Motel 6.

    The work the YOA does, under the radar, is absolutely extraordinary, and I can’t wait to spend next July with them, even if I won’t be performing…

    • Mark Reneau says:

      I can only agree: Carlos Prieto is a wonderful conductor. I was concertmaster during his tenure with the Huntsville Symphony, and my youngest son plays in his trumpet section in the Louisiana Phil. Carlos always arrived in Huntsville exhausted AND highly energized by those tours with the YOA.

  6. Eyal Braun says:

    The Israel PO recently launched an academy in Shfar’am, an arab city near Haifa ,which recruit the best arab-Israeli young musician, the aim is to add arab musicians to the orchestra in the coming years. Mehta has declared many times that he wants to add Arab musicians to the orchestra and this will probably happen within the next few years.

    and another arab- israeli program of the IPO:

  7. I just want to Thank You the Orquesta de Extremadura nomination.

    Here You can see a couple of post in my blog with images of the “musical resistance”.

  8. TwtrSymphony is breaking new ground by creating a ‘virtual’ orchestra of live musicians from around the world. We’re also proving the power or social media for classical music given our rise in global popularity in less than 9 months.

    Thanks for the mention and helping spread the word about this awesome project!

    Chip Michael
    Music Director

  9. Firstly, the Vienna Phil principal trombone decided to leave of his own accord, was not bullied out, and was NOT the whole section (no idea where that came from).

    Also, in launching the new app, the Philharmonia also stopped taking bookings by text, effectively ostracising members of the student scheme who couldn’t afford an expensive smartphone, losing them stock in my books. I was actually a student rep and resigned for this reason.

    • At issue were the working conditions in comparison to alternatives that made two trombonists decide to leave.

      • Benedict Lea says:

        It would be very refreshing if you were to get your facts straight for a change, Mr Osborne. You clearly have no idea why the two trombonists in question left the orchestra but that would appear to be a general trait for you. I am sick of the racist sexist argument which you feel necessary to constantly raise again and again. I am the first and only Australian violinist in the history of the orchestra and I got in on the merits of my playing and musical ability. The reason I choose to stay is because the orchestra is simply excellent.
        Whilst commenting I would like to add that the orchestra is not against women as players. Yes, some of the opinions are ridiculously conservative but by no means all of them, especially amongst the younger generations. To put all of the orchestra’s arguments into one huge melting pot is not only wrong but it gives people who are achieving change in this area zero credit. Please leave us to successfully fix the problem. It will happen and then you will be left not looking too bright…..

  10. I Think I would be kind of suspicious on my vote. However, It is important to mention that São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) was a complete and truly provincial band until 15 years ago, since then they had been doing a tremendous progress (Including Brand development), and specially in recent years such: 1 – Contract with a good MD for some years after a trial with musicians participation (The MD is Marin Alsop and the previous one was Yan Pascal Tortelier that is principal guest now). 2 – A contract with Naxos label to record not just Brazilian music such Villa-Lobos, but they are recording all Prokofiev Symphonies with Alsop, and had already made Tchaikovsky with Tortelier with good reviews even outside the country) 3 – An exclusive concert hall (Sala SP) for 1.800 people with an acoustic considered good enough also by most guest artist (Hahn, Kovacevich, Muti, Vanska, Josefowicz, Mehta, Berglund, Freire, Masur,Volodos etc – I should mention that Abbado did not appreciate it when He was rehearsing there years ago with Berliner). 4 – A year budget around of 48,6 millions $USD (64% provided by the state government, 34% own resources) and musicians salaries on average with business executives. Since 1996 there weren’t any strikes. 5 – Many demands for new compositions and every year a 2 weeks all around with guest composers in person working with the orchestra and audience (Recently years were Gubaidulina, Part and Golijov). 6 – Fully booked tickets for most concerts. 7 – Increase from no subscriptions (Zero) on 1996 to more than 60% of total tickets on 2012. 8 – In the last years they had been touring to many places in the North America and Europe playing in well know places such Concertgebouw or at Proms 2012 with Alsop and pianist Nelson Freire. 9 – Weekly podcast of their concerts by Local Radio and through internet. 10 – From 1934 until 1996 The orchestra was barely recognized as a professional one, on 2012 is considered as strong respectful brand that attract sponsors support in the country. They are not top-notch yet, but considering achievement in recent years, they can get it very soon.
    The manager in charge for most of this changes was John Neschling.

    This info can be checked on the orchestra site (In English) Steven moss article for The Guardian: And the Telegraph

    • just correcting, Abbado wasn’ t rehearsing at Sala Sao Paulo with Berliner, they performed at Teatro Municipal, another concert hall, In fact Abbado was not happy for not playing in Saa Sao Paulo, he knew about it but didn’ t visite the venue.

      • I’m sorry Rita, concerning Abbado opinion I was just trying to be impartial providing the explanation by one of the major newspaper in Brazil telling that Abbado was relying on Maazel judgment, please see at:

        I think the real reason explanation came from Claudia Toni (SP Hall administrator at that time). Mozarteum in Brazil wanted the Theatro Municipal due to large number of audience (And tickets to be sell). Anyway, Even if Abbado did not enjoy there are many other that did. No reason to banish the Hall acoustic based on just one professional. However, do you agree with my opinion about OSESP?

  11. Paraphrasing Dickens , “It was the best of orchestras, it was the worst of orchestras.” This schizophrenic nomination goes to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rochester, NY.

    “BEST” for recognizing talent and a great fit with the community it serves by hiring as Music Director Arild Remmereit. He has updated the repertoire, sparked excitement in the hall and region, and regularly features works of women composers in the city that was the home of pivotal American suffragist Susan B. Anthony. According to many in the audience, the musicians have never sounded better. Finally, the maestro received awards for innovative programming for his efforts.

    “WORST” because in late November 2012 the RPO board called for his 4 year contract to be broken after 1 1/2 years, and is engaged in a public and messy debate about his interpersonal relations with management, the board and musicians.
    As of this writing, over 1,000 subscribers, patrons and musicians from around the world have signed and commented on a petition on his behalf. Substantial donations have been rescinded, board members who favor him have resigned, and the divisive public debate has brought much negative publicity. This at a time when this orchestra is, once again, suffering a deficit. Firing an extremely talented MD just before the holidays is not sitting well with the general public.

  12. Emil Archambault says:

    Can you elaborate on the Wiener Phil’s trombone section? I haven’t heard anything about it.

  13. malaysiaboleh says:

    Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra – for worst development during 2012 and negative future outlook!

    You’ve mentioned the 9 sacked players and the international audition boycott of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. In fact that is just the tip of the iceberg.
    The recent verdict in a Malaysia court case shows clearly that the MPO mistreated their musicians after the sudden change of management in 2010.

    The decline of this once so solid and hopeful orchestra happens on many levels.

    A few more things to add to the list:

    >with season 2012/13 new, far worse, more restrictive contracts with clearly less salary than before. Replacing the dismissed key players with equally professional musicians is – under the current circumstances – next to impossible.

    >The change from a full time full size (ca 100 players) orchestra to a pickup band. There are about 40 vacancies now…only filled if needed with substitutes…

    It is safe to say that many of the musicians left because of the unacceptable behavior (and controversial renewal) of the music director. No doubt, more musicians will resign soon because of the generally worsened working conditions

    >What never is mentioned: Also a significant number of key personnel at the office resigned (or have been dismissed) during the last two years

    >The decisions made during recent internal auditions show that there won’t be a change from the corrupt way Mr. Flor handled hiring, firing and promotions so far. MPO Musicians are not consulted, and if they are asked their opinion is noted but ignored.

    >No CD recordings with BIS anymore, after many years of successful collaboration. As an international brand that might be the biggest damage possible.

    >Considering that the mother company is an oil giant (#25 on Forbes list of the world biggest oil companies with ca 1.4 mio barrels output per day ) there are obviously no financial reasons for this development. So if this is the result of political decisions the question should be: What comes next?

    With the unjustified dismissals, the malicious policy of the new management and music director, the new contracts and the lost international reputation 2012 was indeed a devastating year for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. A shame what happened there!

    • As a long time follower of the MPO, it saddens me to see these kinds of moves. I had read about the international boycott for auditions but what happened with the internal auditions?

      • malaysiaboleh says:

        What happened? Flor happened.

        Here a quote from the recently updated musicians handbook (which is part of the employment contract)

        “At the end of the audition, wether live or recorded, the AP (audition panel) will meet together.
        AP members may offer comments if they wish, after which an advisory vote may be taken by secret ballot.
        The Music director shall have a right to veto over the selection of any member of the Orchestra.”

        same thing for trials:

        “At the end of the trial period, the blablabla bla bla bla

        ….The Music Director shall have the final decision over the selection of any member of the orchestra…”

        So the whole audition process is a one man show, a joke by international standards.

        Flor can employ or promote anybody with or without audition who will fit his personal agenda.

        Most musicians (principals and orchestra council members) who got involved in an attempt to implement a fair and transparent audition procedure got sacked.

        Previous and recent decisions show that Mr.Flor’s priorities are based on his own benefits.
        Artistic professional level and development of the orchestra is certainly not top of his list. Wondering if it is on his list at all…

  14. Iain Scott says:

    Well I notice my serios suggestion of best orchestra , the Royal Scottish National Orchestra,based on increased houses,fabulous paying and ongoing growth of audience seems to have failed the Editor’s edit.
    Mayb that’s because I failed to enter into the gossipy and bitchy spirit of this facille post.
    Anyone go any serious thought?

  15. From a reader who needs to preserve anonymity: I would like my nomination for worst orchestra to remain anonymous.
    It is the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic, from Durban South Africa.
    The CEO insists on being the Artistic Director as well, and programs
    the same non-progressive works constantly. He earns a massive salary,
    whilst the over-worked musicians (constantly changing schedules to
    accommodate politically motivated concerts) barely live above the
    poverty line, and cannot hold teaching jobs due to the constantly
    shifting schedule.
    Non-existing marketing, ensures audiences dwindle and what public
    concerts are available, are lacking in any form of real musical
    substance. The development mandate of the orchestra is barely met,
    with no real emphasis on programming local soloists or conductors.

  16. The Johannesburg Philharmonic has not closed down yet. They’re in a lot of trouble, but they’re technically not done for yet and we’re all holding thumbs that they can get through their current management-driven mess.

    • I sincerely hope that the Johannesburg Philharmonic orchestra can be saved. It will be a disaster if we lose all the wonderful players in the orchestra for their contribution does so much to prop up the crumbling cultural and musical life in Johannesburg.

  17. Spencer Down says:

    Thank you for a using a picture of the Mayor’s Jubilee Brass Band for your piece, a group of young musicians from the four London music colleges together with the Mayor’s scholars from deprived parts of London. The band was pulled together to perform on one of the barges for the Queen’s Jubilee pageant.

    They were all heroes. They performed with energy and brilliance despite being soaked through to the skin for the duration and ignored by the BBC! Some of the young musicians were as young as 10 years old.
    I know this because I am the one standing in the middle with the red baseball cap waving the baton!

    Surely they have got to be up for a nomination for the best…

  18. Based on recent concerts I’ve attended, I vote for the Atlanta Symphony as one of the BEST.

    Musically they are first rate. (If current fund raising efforts bear fruit, then the financial situation should improve as well, and in two years musicians’ pay should increase.)

  19. Martin Bookspan says:

    Come on, Norman. Because there apparently are no Arab musicians in the Israel Philharmonic, a situation sure to change in the next few years (barring the annihilation of the Jewish State of Israel by brothers of any potential Arab symphony musicians) , the Orchestra lands on a list of the worst orchestras in the world? How many Arab players are in the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, and on and on?

    It’s a question of culture. After the Arab expulsion or murder of most of the Jewish inhabitants of the Holy Land some 3,000 years ago, the remaining remnant of Jews was scattered throughout Europe and Africa—later in the United States. Whenever allowed and wherever they went, Jews, while maintaining their identity as Jews, also identified with the local culture and contributed to it out of all proportion to their numbers.

    The Arabs, unfortunately, have no such motivation. Instead, they want to conquer the planet and turn the world into a mirror image of THEIR culture of the Seventh Century. The problem is a much more profound and perilous one than “How many Arabs are in the Israel Philharmonic?”

    • Martin, there are a million Arab citizens of the state of Israel. Quite a few are professional musicians. Some have played in Barenboim’s E-W Diwan. None has been considered for membership in the IPO. That’s as bad as Vienna and women.

      • Norman, blaming the IPO for not hiring arab rooted musicians is not fair.
        To be hired by such an ensemble like the IPO, it’s a matter of qualification mainly in western classical music which is the IPO’s musical home. I am a classical trained professional orchestra musician in Germany , I am aware that I am not able to perform f.e. arab, japanese, chinese or brazilian music on the same professional level. That’s the point.
        There are musicians from arab countries who are well gifted and trained to play western classical music but they will go to Europe or the States to make their way. The time will come, when the first arab will join the IPO.
        I hope, he/she will join the orchestra because of winning the audition procedure and not because of a quote.

      • I played in the Israeli Shira youth orchestra in 1992 that was conducted by Lorin Maazel and Yoel Levi.
        We made a run-out to the mostly Arab town near Nazareth. Some of our best players performed at the town hall around during one of their meetings. The townfolk talked loudly over the performance and then we found ourselves in a political rally that denounced Israel. My point is, we liberal-minded do-gooders just assume other cultures value our precious classical music and that everybody is not only dying to hear it but to play it with us. Guess what? They don’t.
        A black woman once admonished our US orchestra to me for not having enough blacks in it. I was at a loss to convey to her the unbelievable hospitality any black person would get if they were to emerge past the screen in an audition as a finalist. We bend over backwards to make it possible for them. I can’t fill my fingers naming black classical players that I know personally. Likewise, the IPO would welcome any Arab who loved classical music enough to play it like they did. Let’s not be divisive towards the uniters, we music makers.

  20. Matilda Lloyd says:

    I nominate the Lord Mayor’s Jubilee Band as shown in the picture as the best orchestra of 2012! These 40 young brass players from all areas of London and beyond braved the cold,wind and rain to play for the Queen in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant and didn’t even get a mention on the TV – hence them being named “unsung heroes” by the Telegraph later on in the week!

    • But not the LPO, who were also on the flotilla?

      • Matilda Lloyd says:

        The LPO are professional musicians who deal with situations and music like that all the time, whereas these 40 young musicians had an age range of 10 – 18 and this was something completely new to them! They played fantastically and absolutely pulled it off, which makes their success so much greater than that of the LPO. The Band only had 2 rehearsal prior to the pageant and they had never played the music before, whereas the LPO musicians had all played their programme countless times before in their career. Please consider this and recognise the talent and enthusiasm of the youngsters!

      • Zak Eastop says:

        No as they were covered, and in a heated barge. Infact I would say they were basically playing indoors.

  21. Zak Eastop says:

    I have to say the Mayor of London’s Brass Band (pictured) should win the award for best orchestra as they, heroically, played for hours on the cold, rainy Thames for absolutely NO TV recognition. FOR FREE. Unlike every other orchestra on the list. Somehow they also managed to sound world class, despite being rocked around all over the place AND having to play on stone cold instruments for hours.

  22. christopher wheatleu says:

    I nominate the Lord Mayor’s Jubilee Band as shown in the picture as the best orchestra of 2012!

  23. Martin Bookspan says:

    don’t want to get into a long discussion, Norman, but there are Arab members of the Knesset, Israel’s governing body. And of the million or so Arab residents/citizens of Israel many are refugees, or their descendents, escaping the inhumanity of their native Arab Lands.

    In any of the surrounding Arab countries are there counterpart attempts at bringing together Arabs and Israelis as Barenboim has done with his West-East Diwan Orchestra?

    • The question is rhetorical, Martin. Of course, there aren’t. But there is no reason to play by those standards.

      • Martin Bookspan says:

        Rhetorical questions sometimes produce answers that reveal a truth more fundamental than a “regular” question might elicit

        • Such is the nature of rhetoric.

          • In this exchange, Norman’s answer (Dec. 14 at 10:00 am) to Martin’s “rhetorical” question revealed that the host of this blog does not see anything wrong with setting the bar much higher for the IPO than for any of its neighboring peers which in itself is not particularly unusual or uncommon, but singling that orchestra out by including it among the “worst” for not clearing such lofty heights (which, by Norman’s own admission, plenty of others do not even attempt to approach, yet not a single one of them receives that same seal of his disapproval) is a clear case of unfairness and possibly hypocrisy too. As for the “guilty” verdict itself in the case of “proportional representation” against the IPO, i am in agreement with Alex’s comment (Dec. 14 at 11:07 am).

  24. Joe Fenning says:

    I would like to nominate the Lord Mayor’s Jubilee Band. A group of highly talented and dedicated young musicians from London and the surrounding areas who played incredibly well while exposed to the wind and rain on the Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Brilliant playing and wonderful people!

  25. Dawn Hannay says:

    Best? The Minnesota Orchestra Musicians, for their strength in the face of unimaginable adversity and for putting on great concerts despite being locked out!

  26. Norman,

    I’d like to nominate the London Mozart Players. It is a terrific orchestra and one of south London’s great sources of beauty and culture. Its community work is also outstanding.

  27. Those of the LPO who were not at Glyndebourne and, helped by a substantial quota of deps, were warm and dry under cover on the flotilla? Er, no.

  28. This has been a rough year for many Orchestras,
    Worldwide. The Arts is always one of the first
    Disciplines attacked for cuts, reductions and closures.
    I like to thank an Orchestra that may not feature
    On the World stage but here in Melbourne Australia,
    acts as a vital and prominent ambassador for great
    Art and esteem. Orchestra Victoria (once the State
    Orchestra of Victoria) has been performing
    Opera and Ballet scores for over 35 years.
    Their unique sound can be heard on several Opera
    Recordings found on the Melba Records label.
    A dedicated and tenacious group of musicians
    Whom endured numerous ups and downs this
    Year along, they have climbed to the top in my humble
    Opinion. At times a hard gruelling schedule with
    Double performances on Saturdays, the Orchestra
    Always provides a high quality sound and a flair
    For the dramatic. Performance partners with both
    Australian Ballet and Opera Australia, this small
    But powerful ensemble, with some outstanding Woodwind
    and lead string players creates a sound that fills the
    State Thearte night after night. A true staple of
    The high standards of music making found in Melbourne,
    Orchestra Victoria brings both the dramatic and emotional
    qualities to any production they are involved.
    Thank you for their hard work and endless dedication.
    We hope they have a restful Summer break and will
    Keep them in our thoughts and prayers for their uncertain future.

  29. Alice Gould Butts says:

    CLEVELAND Orchestra is the best! In Vienna people are lined up around the block to hear the best! No comment on the worst, as hoping for enlightenment…

  30. BEST: LA Phil
    WORST: Minnesota

  31. Best: Chicago
    Worst: Johannesburg (sorry)

  32. Best: Orquesta de Extremadura Survived against impossible odds in remote part of Spain. Yes, I’m from Extremadura. Extremadura is the poorest region in Spain and it’s important to us having an Orchestra. It’s important for music students, and for children… There’s some work to do, anyway, but its survival shows us that little things, sometimes are big things.

    Sorry for my English. I’m still studying this wonderful language…

    • Agree on Extremadura! What a remarkable, inspiring orchestra! You all showed the world what determination and a smart campaign can accomplish! Bravi!

    • Jose Miguel says:

      Best orchestra Extremadura, I think The sabe.

  33. Don Th. Jaeger says:

    Best Orchestra today – Los Angeles Philharmonic. Not only is it great player by player, but the hall is unvelievalbe, Dudamel terrific, and they have built an enthusiasm factor for just everything they do which is always in evidence! Bravo to Los Angeles!

  34. I heard Cleveland Symphony in their amazing hall this autumn.. they are wonderful, but David Robertson in StLouis is doing great things w/ new music.. also, Springfield MO symphony is really fun…

  35. Orquesta de Extremadura is the best. It is amazing, the musics are wonderful.

  36. LA Phil is the best.

  37. Best: Chicago
    Worst: Minnesota

  38. best SBSO (by far) for their musicianship, their dedication, their generosity, their flexibility, their groove (yes a 150 piece orchestra that can groove like a salsa band!) and all what they represent !!! ask LA Phil!

  39. Stephen North says:

    Best: BBC Philharmonic – most beautiful Bruckner I’ve ever heard, astonishing range of activities (Proms to Pet Shop Boys) dedicated and hard working for too little recognition.

    Worst: Minnesota

  40. Best: Orquesta de Extremadura. Survived on 31th of july (was the last day for save it), and now a new musical project, a new season, new audition for player… let’s go on!

  41. Best: Orquesta de Extremadura. Survived on 31th of july (was the last day for save it), and now a new musical project, a new season, new audition for player… let’s go on!

  42. Carmel Sayago says:

    Voto por la Orquesta de Extremadura que ha luchado con todas sus fuerzas y medios para sobrevivir y gracias a ello sigue existiendo y haciendo una maravillosa música.

  43. Best orchesta: Orquesta de Extremadura

  44. Best orchesta: Extremadura

  45. Best orchesta: Extremadura

  46. Matteo Pagliari says:

    Best orchestra: Orquestra de Extremadura. Great musicians, great discipline, great enthusiams. great ensemble.

  47. Emilia Crisóstomo says:

    Mi voto por la ORQUESTA DE EXTREMADURA. Su lucha, ha sido una lucha titánica, enfrentándose a todas las dificultades para salir adelante y sobrevivir.
    Solo los que estamos aquí, en este pequeño rincón del mundo, sabemos lo que significa mantener esta orquesta. Antes, nunca tuvimos nada parecido.
    Gracias a ella, la música va llegando a todos los rincones de nuestra olvidada región
    Hemos aprendido con ella que la música no es un lujo, sino una necesidad.
    Es una gran orquesta y se merecen este premio.

  48. Miguel Angel Muñoz says:

    Best orchesta: Orquesta de Extremadura

  49. amalia ogando says:

    best orchestra: orquesta de extremadura. Indeed.

  50. Best Orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  51. Best orchestra: Orquesta de extremadura. Im a young violinist and it’s very sad to see how the government wants to destroy our culture. I support all the musicians of this orchestra, the are doing the best!

    I would like to say thank to Mr LEBRECHT for remember this little orchestra. This is very important for us :)

  52. Best Orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  53. Best Orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  54. Best Orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  55. Best Orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  56. Best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura.

    Culture is a right for all. Under this motto, the OEX, has struggled under extreme conditions that challenged its dissolution. They had believe it necessary to make our society aware that our orchestra is an indispensable instrument for the advancement of classical music in this region (Extremadura). Since it was founded, it has also helped forming numerous young musicians through its Youth Orchestra program, the Orquesta Joven de Extremadura. And definitely, our orchestra has become a reference wherever the culture of Extremadura is mentioned in this country. Fortunately, we still have among us.

  57. Raquel Rodríguez Tejada says:

    Mi voto por la Orquesta de Extremadura. En una ciudad pequeña como la nuestra su actividad es insustituible. Además de su calidad como músicos hay que añadir el beneficio que hacen con sus conciertos, tanto para adultos como los que hacen para niños, con su programa de “Música en familia” y “Conciertos didácticos”. Mis alumnos de Educación Infantil han disfrutado de ellos y ha sido un aliciente para acercarse a la música clásica y ser “melómanos” incondicionales. La orquesta, con todas las trabas que ha tenido por parte de la clase política, se merece todo el apoyo del mundo !

  58. Best orchesta: Orquesta de Extremadura for surviving the cuts
    Worst: Minneapolis for the lockout.

  59. R. Barrera says:

    Of course, Best Orchestra: OEX Orquesta de EXTREMADURA

  60. F Cuéllar says:

    Best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura.

  61. Paco Ferri says:

    Shall we vote through comments?
    If so: My vote for Best Orchestra must go to: Orquesta de Extremadura.

    Through their fight and struggle they are doing more for art in this times than any other other orquestra.

    I do not have the courage to vote for the worst one.

  62. Just an opinion says:

    Looks like a lot of spamming going on here by one person using multiple nicks
    Norman, maybe you should check the IPs before counting the results.

    Best orchestra with excellent creative marketing, fair treatment of musicians, excellent playing and surely a bright future: Berlin Philharmonic
    Beeing up there at the top and still working hard to improve . That’s an impressing attitude.

    Worst orchestra with terrible recent developments and sad future ahead : Malaysian Philharmonic.

  63. My vote:
    best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura.
    worst orchestra: Israel Phil.

  64. Elena Barroso says:

    Best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura.

  65. Philip Lingard says:

    Best- Detroit for showing a way forwards in terrible circumstances

    Worst- OSR for showing the way backwards in excellent circumstances

  66. My vote for Extremadura Orchestra of course.
    We will continue fighting for not extinguishing the flame of music in Extremadura.

  67. Best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura.

  68. best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  69. “Best Orchestra:Orquesta de Extremadura”

  70. tania ramos morado says:

    for me the best orchestra is “Orquesta de Extremadura”

  71. The best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura!

  72. Pilar Sánchez says:

    for me the best orchestra is “Orquesta de Extremadura”

  73. Mi voto es para la Orquesta de Extremadura

  74. For the musicians of the orchestra, the music and culture in Extremadura, the best is “Orquesta de Extremadura”.

  75. In my opinion, “Just an opinion” is basically correct.
    The worst, by far: Extremadura – for the most blatant manipulation of voting and total disrespect toward this blog’s host and its readers. All comments nominating that orchestra for “the best” should be deleted and the band itself disqualified from such consideration.

    • MarK, no one is manipulating the voting. These are the members of the Extremadura orchestra and their community doing exactly what the blog requests them to do: they are voting. Orchestra members and community supporters of every other ensemble on that list could do exactly the same.

      Unfortunately I don’t think this type of nomination means quite the same to players in orchestras like LAPhil, who are making 150K + year as it does to those in Extremadura who’ve are struggling to get by and who deserve recognition for surviving an exceptionally rough year.

      Spain is in a very bad place right now. People are frightened, confused, out of work, out of hope, out of everything. Suicides are at a record high – upstanding citizens who’ve lost everything are literally throwing themselves out of windows to their death as police come to foreclose on their homes.

      Music is a tremendous comfort during these hard times. It’s no coincidence that reports of extraordinary musical experiences are coming in from Spain right now: music is one of the few pleasures remaining and orch. players play with this knowledge. The Valencia concertmaster who reported his overwhelming concert experience in this blog last week. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on tour in Spain whose director was moved to tears. This is how meaningful music is in a country in the depths of crisis.

      Extremadura is the poorest region in Spain. This orchestra was up against unbelievable odds trying to keep themselves in existence. They fought a strong, intelligent battle by any standards. And they won.

      The news that their work has been recognized and that OEX has received this nomination has just appeared in the local media. This is a tremendous honour for the entire community. One can only imagine how uplifting this news must be and how much pride they must feel for having been able to keep their orchestra alive!

      • That’s one way of looking at it. My opinion remains as stated above. In any case, NL made his decision which I think is a reasonable compromise.

  76. sara balaguer says:

    I think the best orchestra is the Orquesta de Extremadura. your work is wonderful and essential for the defense of culture and music in Extremadura

  77. My vote for the best orchestra is for “Orquesta de Extremadura”

  78. J.L. Almena says:

    The best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura.
    Así suena la música en este paraíso.

  79. Best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura.

  80. Don’t these Estremadura claqeurs realise what idiots they look and what a disservice they are doing to the orchestra?

    • Drew,

      Mr. Lebrecht asked for readers’ votes. The assumption would be that whoever gets the most votes wins. This was evidently communicated to the orchestra and community and they are doing exactly what he asked: they are voting.


  81. “best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura”.

  82. “best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura”.

  83. “best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura”.

  84. “best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura”.

  85. The best orchestra is “Orquesta de Extremadura”

  86. Mi voto para la orquesta de extremadura

  87. Best Orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  88. Alicia Lázaro says:

    The best: Orquesta de Extremadura.
    Bravo por ellos!

  89. Miguel Bustamante says:

    Best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura. Because its heroic resistance and generosity.

  90. Jesús Clemente says:

    My vote is for Oex, Orquesta de Extremadura. They deserve this important award.


    For me, the best orchesta: Extremadura

  92. JESUS ACUÑA says:

    Show must go on!!! My vote it’s Orchesta Extremadura

  93. rosario guerra says:

    best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  94. Extremadura Orchesta is the best!!!

  95. Mónica Martins says:


  96. My vote for Best orchestra goes to “Orquesta de Extremadura”

  97. Rosa María Mejías says:

    Bestt orquestra – Orquesta de Extremadura

  98. Best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  99. Best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura.

  100. Carmen pineda says:

    Best orchestra: Orquesta de Extremadura

  101. Since I can remember, all I wanted to do in life is play in a professional orchestra. When the orchestra almost disappeared I felt my dream was going away… You can’t imagine how glad I am that finally it didn’t happen. Then, of course, my vote is for Orquesta de Extremadura!

  102. Roberto Maqueda says:

    My vote is for Extremadura Symphony Orchestra.

  103. BEST: Extremadura Symphony Orchestra

  104. The Orquesta de Extremadura is the best!! Good job.

  105. Por su lucha contra la crisis y su buena musica. Son unos excelentes profesionales

  106. La Orquesta de Extremadura, por su trabajo en equipo, por su profesionalidad, por no hundirse cuando todo va mal, y porque nadie más que ellos se lo merecen.

  107. My vote is São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP)

  108. Na minha opinião uma das melhores ou a melhor!

  109. La Orquesta de Extremadura is certainly the loudest!

an ArtsJournal blog