Sunday, October 27, 2013

"bold ideas about symphonic formats and community outreach"

Here at The Music Salon I like to look at things from a different perspective. If everyone is talking about Miley Cyrus, I might talk about Tom Waits instead:

If everyone is chatting about the John Cage centennial, I might ignore it or put up a critique instead. One perennial theme that more than one blog is devoted to, is how classical ensembles can reach out to find new audiences. If not enough young people are attending Haydn string quartet concerts, then let's schedule a tour in some pubs.

I'm a little skeptical, frankly. I wonder if instead of invading pubs we might not be better off figuring a way to stop people from answering their cellphones in the middle of concerts:

What I'm building up to is an article I just ran across about the fate of the Brooklyn Philharmonic who seem to have boldly formatted and outreached themselves into oblivion:
Since August, visitors to the Philharmonic’s website have been greeted with a “closed for maintenance” message. Music director Alan Pierson’s contract expired in June and hasn’t been renewed. The administrative staff has left. An orchestra source, who declined to speak on record, says the group is experiencing severe financial difficulties due to a drop in fundraising.
"Philanthropy is the biggest challenge facing the reorganization of the Brooklyn Philharmonic today, in 2013,” said Joseph Melillo, the executive producer at the Brooklyn Academy of Music where, a decade ago, the Philharmonic had a full subscription season. The orchestra left in 2005, and by 2011, it had become a touring outfit, playing in neighborhoods like Bedford Stuyvesant and Brighton Beach. But funding dried up.
"Today you have a symphonic orchestra that at one time was doing symphonic orchestra concerts," Melillo added. "That’s no longer how they define themselves."
If a symphony orchestra can no longer appeal to its real base, which is probably older, more affluent listeners, then where do they go for funding?
By 2009, the orchestra had cancelled its season for lack of money. There was also management turmoil: the orchestra’s executive director, a self-styled entrepreneur named Richard Dare, came aboard with bold ideas about symphonic formats and community outreach.
We are always hearing how "bold ideas about symphonic formats and community outreach" is the solution to classical music's supposed problems. Maybe, maybe not. In this case, it seems to have hastened the decline of what was once a much-loved orchestra.

If you go to YouTube and search for clips of the Brooklyn Philharmonic this is mostly what you find:

No comments: