A rush of votes by members and supporters of a jeopardised Spanish orchestra distorted the process towards the end. We decided to discount all votes from that locality – and yet the Spanish orch still squeaked into the list, albeit at a more appropriate rank. Votes were received on site, via social media and direct by email and other comms. Three votes came through the door in unmarked envelopes.
Voting numbers were low and the results may in some cases be distorted by handful of personal grievances. The outcome cannot be taken as being more than a general, imprecise impression of how well or badly orchestras performed as public and commercial entities during the calendar year 2012. Those that stumbled have a chance to redeem themselves in the year ahead.
Here are the final results, and the reasons. Remember: it was not enough to play well. This is a judgement of how well and badly an orchestra performed as a brand.
Best Orchestras of 2012
1 Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra The most talked-about and widely-travelled US orch, carrying Brand Dudamel to all four corners of the earth, split a Mahler cycle between US and Venezuela, advanced tremendous outreach work across its own urban area.
2 Tonhalle Zurich Late appointment of 26 year-old conductor Lionel Bringuier turned a dormant ensemble into an international eye-catcher.
3 Detroit Symphony Brilliant streaming programme with Russian broadcaster, $25 season ticket for students, new talent coming into the ranks, Leonard Slatkin’s orch has come bursting back out of the doldrums.
4 Sao Paolo First Lat-Am orch to go global
5 Chicago Despite short strike, attracting the best new players and sounding happier under Muti than it has for years.
6 Orquesta de Extremadura In the least accessible region of Spain, this ensemble was designated for closure under government cuts. Fierce resistance by the community saved the orchestra and made it a national emblem of cultural hope and renewal.
Worst orchestras of 2012
1 Minnesota Orchestra Locked its musicians out saying it could not afford the wage bill, while spending $50 million on a new lobby.
2 Malaysian Phiharmonic Fired 9 foreign players, got placed on international audition boycott
6 Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Struggled to recover from brutal lockout
* result adjusted due to uncounted vote