AJ Logo an ARTSJOURNAL weblog | ArtsJournal Home | AJ Blog Central

« Henry Fogel | Main | Welcome! »

September 30, 2006

on the record

We've been hearing about the death of classical music and the aging of the audience for many decades. Not true!

In fact, the first time I saw imminent death predicted for classical music was in a 1962 editorial in Stereo Review, which observed (without evidence) that the audience was aging significantly, and that if something wasn't done soon we would see some major orchestras folding.

Guess what? We're still here, and doing better than ever. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "reports of our death are highly exaggerated." The truth is, while orchestras (like other cultural institutions) face tremendous challenges as a result of our ever-changing society, we are embracing these challenges in many innovative and exciting ways.

This blog is about the vitality of America's orchestras and will paint a realistic portrait of orchestras in their communities as well as the way they are keeping alive the art and tradition of symphonic music.

When I became the President of the American Symphony Orchestra League in 2003, I made it my mission to literally go out and visit as many orchestras as I could in order to assess firsthand the national situation. Since that time I have traveled all over the country visiting orchestras of all shapes and sizes. Typically, I spend a day or two with each orchestra I visit, meeting with musicians, trustees, and staff, and almost always attending a concert (or at least a rehearsal).

This experience has been an uplifting education about the scope, diversity, and variety of today's American orchestral scene as well as its basic health and vitality. As of this writing, I have visited 93 different American orchestras since July, 2003.

The ways in which the New York Philharmonic, the Boseman (Montana) Symphony Orchestra, and the Reno Chamber Orchestra interact with their communities are astonishingly varied, and it is my hope to illuminate those interactions, and at the same time the remarkable level of performance that can be found in the most unexpected places.

Posted by mclennan at September 30, 2006 9:33 PM