It seems that there is an unbearable amount of bad news in the classical music world. I’m tired of hearing my friends and colleagues repeat, in a mantra-like fashion, the doomsdays news of various orchestras’ demise and the death of classical music. While so much of it is in fact true and disturbing, there is good news in various forms and sizes out there that is being sidelined for more sensationalized and disturbing news. So I’m starting a list of positive things that I have noticed over the past month, and I hope to add to it over the next few months with help from you.
If you’ve noticed something positive, exciting, encouraging, or just interesting, please send me a note so I can update the list by mid to late summer. What I am not looking for are press releases, spin on mediocrity, or self promotion. Here’s what good I have noticed recently:
- If you build it well, and thoughtfully, they will come: Nashville built a fantastic concert hall a few years back, and it is being used and enjoyed. The hall was packed this past weekend for Mahler’s Symphony 2, and the capacity audience erupted as the final notes were still reverberating. Five curtain calls later, the orchestra left the stage and the audience was still finishing their drinks, and chatting about the experience. It was a concert hall project that I remember many poo-pooing because it was destined to fail by a few self proclaimed experts. It did not, and I have since watched the orchestra and the audience thrive.
- I came across a young woman last week who works as a school secretary. She said, “I love going to the symphony concerts, I try to go to both concerts our symphony offers in a week so I can hear the music twice and learn better how to enjoy a program on the second hearing.”
- Florida Orchestra is starting a cultural exchange with Cuba. Awesome! Spread the music, share the cultures; create a bridge in economies, politics, and beliefs. Music is one way to cover those bases.
- Detroit Symphony’s concertmaster, Emmanuelle Boisvert, gets snapped up by Dallas Symphony. Finally, a group that knows and wants talent when they see and hear it; Dallas wasted no time in salvaging what Detroit was quick to classify as “replaceable.” Clearly there is a need for quality and refined talent, not just fresh out of college excitement that seems like a fiscally great idea but often turns into a regrettable hire.
- Christine Brewer and Nancy Wagner get it: neither decided to dumb down music to a middle school class, and a brilliant discussion was formed. Maybe future patrons and appreciators of the opera world were cultivated.
- There are many really awesome living composers that have Facebook accounts and actually write back when fans give compliments. It’s just nice to have some connection with the patrons that previous generations were denied.
- Alec Baldwin is a fantastic advocate and voice for the New York Philharmonic. He brings respectable clout and a recognizable voice that isn’t too stuffy to radio broadcasts. He is someone who “regular” people can identify with.
- On the Green Line “L” train in Chicago last week, I overheard people talking about the many picnics they were planning for the Grant Park Music Festival and how they were especially looking forward to a concert featuring the composer Krzysztof Penderecki. I always love when people talk about living composers on public transportation.
- Dudamel and the marketing machine that follows him around are spectacular. He is a great representative for classical music.
- And finally, thanks to the patron who bought me a drink after a concert last month. As she handed me the drink, she said, “I know you put all your heart and more into these concerts, and all I can do is buy a ticket and buy you a drink. Thanks for what you do.” It never occurred to me to receive thanks or appreciation like that. Usually I try to thank the patrons for coming to enjoy a concert. It was really nice to see there are people out there who appreciate the work and passion that many times goes unnoticed.
[info_box]As a reminder, please don’t submit press release oriented content and if you have any association with something you’re commenting on, please disclose that fact.[/info_box]