Disrupting the orchestra model, doing away with artistic directors, a cure for what ails the Met Opera, how our ideas about knowledge are changing, and recreating Leonardo (no kidding!)
- What does Disruption Look Like In The Orchestra World? Does it seem odd that there have been so few experiments in orchestra models? Of course many of the things that make an orchestra are fixed – musicians, instruments, acoustic spaces… But still, most orchestras cling to their tried and (increasingly not so) true non-profit model and valiantly try to make it work. So along comes the Memphis Symphony this week with an idea to change the way it’s supported, making a partnership with the local university. The partnership will be built on three strategies: music performance, music training and community engagement. “This isn’t just about cutting costs, but adding value. We believe this is a valuable model that should be observed throughout the field of symphony orchestras across the United States.” Not likely. Oddly, most orchestras seem to think they are unique and are reluctant to look very hard at models that are different from their own.
- Time to Do Away With Artistic Directors? Music Directors? As the arts world has become more complex, the top jobs at many organizations have become more and more removed from from actual artistic decision-making. Do we think that orchestra music directors really make a huge difference when they’re only in residence 12 or 13 weeks in a year? Museum directors are so busy chasing money that they have prescious little time to spend with art. And theatre directors? Here’s one ex-AD’s take: “Even though I have been an artistic director myself, we should see the end of artistic directors. The idea that one person has the knowledge, vision and know-how to create all the necessary work that a building needs in terms of output is a bit old-fashioned.” As the world becomes increasingly de-institutionalized, where will real artistic direction come from?
- Speaking Of Music Directors, The Metropolitan Opera’s Big News Hits The NYT Before It’s News: It’s a fairly open secret in New York that the Met Opera’s next music director will be Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and that the announcement is expected shortly. So what to make of the New York Times’ curious story by Zachary Woolfe weighing whether he would be a good selection? “From its next music director, the Met should want a personal, passionate vision for the repertory as much as an exciting persona and technical chops. … But for better or (I think) worse, he would not arrive at the Met with an agenda, particularly in modern and contemporary music. … Mr. Nézet-Séguin would doubtless give us memorable takes on Otello. Is that enough?” Speaking of the Met, the Times’ story the previous week that ticket sales have gone south prompted the inimitable La Cieca to offer a practical solution: “The answer, it seems to be, is a refinement and great expansion of the existing Rush Ticket program (as originally backed by the sainted Agnes Varis.)”
- How We Share Information, Knowledge, Ideas: “Knowledge” isn’t a fixed idea, and it’s not just information. Nor does it have a static definition. And because the digital communication revolution has changed the ways we trade and transmit information, our definitions of knowledge are changing. Yet there is resistance in some quarters to this idea. “The net in fact exposes problems that have long lurked in our epistemology, problems that come into stark relief when knowledge is freed of paper, and we freely connect with it and through it across all boundaries of time and place.” Want an example? Researchers looked at Wikipedia to try to understand how ideas spread: “To begin their investigation, the researchers followed the first links from all 11 million pages in the English edition of Wikipedia, enabling them to map out a sort of drainage system of ideas, one idea flowing into the next like water from a mountain spring making its way to the sea.”
- What If We Could Recreate Leonardo? Our first story is about a very talented painter who painted like Leonardo and fooled a lot of people. It’s a fascinating story of great ability and our fascination with original work. Our hero has talent. His work passed. But the difference between an original and a “new” Leonardo is a chasm. With each new chapter, the story becomes more extraordinary and the main characters more eccentric. And the second story is…. no really, what if you could actually recreate Leonardo from his DNA? “Anthropologists, art historians, geneticists, genealogists, microbiologists, and other researchers will collaborate on the project to uncover new physical evidence linked to da Vinci. The plan includes studying the microbiomes of da Vinci paintings and tracking the inventor’s descendants, both living and dead. … Researchers will also try to verify da Vinci’s fingerprints and search for them on his works.
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