A reader writes:
Isn’t expecting the New York Philharmonic to be adventurous a bit like expecting a major retail chain to begin its life in Manhattan?
In other words, the stakes are so high these days in NYC that one
can’t help but be conservative with one’s choices. You go to NYC
to announce that you have arrived, not to start your ascent to
greatness. For all of its glitter and glitz, NYC isn’t terribly
interesting from some angles. Its commercial radio is mindnumbingly
conformist. Its politics are very narrow. Its major opera companies
are fairly staid. Now its flagship orchestra is becoming fusty.
No surprise, I guess. Is it a mistake? Sure, but that’s not going to
change anyone’s mind in the near term. If you want innovation you’re
going to have to hope that the smaller, second-tier orchestras come
up with something interesting. The majors can’t afford to alienate
their core constituency.
Nicely put, and quite possibly right…and it it is, then there are dark days ahead for the New York Philharmonic, and every other big-city performing-arts group of which the same thing can be said.
No names, but I went to a Wednesday matinee of a play last week, and every male head I saw was either gray or bald. I know, I know, Wednesday matinees are highly uncharacteristic, but I just got back from a Tuesday-night performance whose audience looked almost the same. Contrary to the apparent belief of a great many people in the arts world, dead people don’t buy tickets.