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Archives for January 2010

Why Memphis Matters to Every American Orchestra

America's struggling orchestras face a double need with a single obvious but controversial solution. The first need is to play fewer concerts. In countless communities, large and small, the concert supply outstrips demand. Orchestras are burdened with contractual obligations that compel them to produce - laboriously and expensively - concerts without a ready audience. Fundraising and marketing resources are overstretched and stretched again. The second need is for orchestras to define themselves less narrowly as concert producers and more … [Read more...]

Looking Beyond the Cleveland Strike

The recent Cleveland Orchestra strike has produced a flurry of commentaries about the financial woes of American orchestras and the impact of declining urban centers on declining audiences. A longer view and a larger picture will be pursued at the forthcoming "Orchestral Summit" at the University of Michigan. I remember when the annual conference of the American Symphony Orchestra League (now the League of American Orchestras) was a sanguine affair. By the late 1980s, concerns about graying audiences had fixed worried attention on marketing and … [Read more...]

Dvorak Teacher-Training

As anyone who is a parent or teacher keenly appreciates, the cultural vocabulary people of my generation (b. 1948) once took for granted is fast disappearing. High school students and college freshmen can no longer be expected to know Marlene Dietrich, or Rodgers & Hammerstein, or Porgy and Bess. Such knowledge was once instilled at home, or via Life Magazine or the Ed Sullivan Show. The absence of the arts and humanities in middle and high school classrooms is widely decried, but this is mainly lip service. In New York City (where I live), you … [Read more...]


When a few years ago Doug McLennan invited me to write an ArtsJournal blog, I thought about it and said no. Having been born as long ago as 1948, I remain somewhat a stranger to the internet. And, as I am always writing a book (a form of therapy) when I am not producing concerts, I felt I didn't have the time. Two considerations changed my mind. These days, writing books seems increasingly quixotic. I am almost finished with my ninth, and I don't have an Opus 10 in sight. The second factor was a Eureka moment during the recent NEA Music Critics … [Read more...]

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