Using extensive market research and three new concert formats, the SSO identified, and pursued, NUCCs (new urban cultural consumers). Among the surprising things the orchestra found is that the new formats don’t serve as “on-ramps” to the main Masterworks series; they are separate products and brand extensions. Also, the audience for the one-hour 7 p.m. concerts is the one with the most conservative tastes.
“Now is a good time for me to rephrase the original question: Do we really want to hear Beethoven’s Fifth as it was heard at its premiere? Do we want to listen to 50 unevenly trained musicians, give or take, playing for four hours on weak instruments that are hard to play, in an unheated concert hall conducted by a deaf man on one rehearsal?”
“I wanted the museum people to give me a hint of why they chose to emphasise one exhibit over another or, more important, why their curator valued one work over another. Especially when the relativist, multicultural talk got thick, and the professionals, unbidden, emphasised how no one piece was inherently superior to another, I felt a powerful impulse to ask, “Then why this particular stuff?” Usually I resisted that urge. It seemed too aggressive in the circumstance. When frustration forced out the question anyway, some condescend and some tried to clarify. Nothing satisfied.”
In the late 1920s, “Calder’s figure sculptures had already gained him a reputation as a troubadour of the giddy high spirits of the Roaring Twenties on both sides of the Atlantic.” (For example, the pictured sculpture of Josephine Baker from 1929.) “What changed? In the years 1930 and 1931 Calder made two life-changing decisions: He became a married man and an abstract artist.”
“Allen’s stature as an important filmmaker (unlike his personal reputation) has proved surprisingly sturdy – despite the withering self-assessments he offers every so often. In an interview during the filming of Match Point, he described himself as ‘functioning within the parameters of my mediocrity,’ and went on to note that if he were ever to make another great film, it would be ‘by accident.’ False modesty? Some, no doubt. But we would do best to take his words at face value.” And yet, writes Christopher Orr, “Allen’s reputation depends in no small part on the very indolence that undermines so many of his films.”