Saturday, June 25, 2005

Summertime Watermusick

Critic Anne Midgette writes an interesting article in
today's New York Times entitled "Decline in Listeners
Worries Orchestras". It deals with issues of both
regular seasons, as well as the summer seasons that are
now common ever since major orchestras gave their
musicians contracts for 52 weeks a year.

I was intrigued by the quote from Welz Kauffman, the
President of the Chicago Symphony Ravinia Festival,
who, referring to a July performance last summer of
Deborah Voight singing Act 1 of Wagner's "Walkure",
under James Conlon, had an epiphany when he saw that
attendance was only 50 percent. He said, referring to
the empty seats, "It's a moral issue. There should not be
anyone missing this. There are people who would really
love this. How do we get to them?"

Well, I agree that it is a moral issue, and I am willing to
sign up as an advocate for connecting American orchestras
to American society and culture at large. But perhaps there
are Americans who don't think that an unstaged, single
act of a long Wagner opera, outdoors, is their idea of the
finest of a little summer night music. And maybe there will
be Americans who don't think that next season's NSO
unstaged, concert performance of Mozart's "Abduction from
the Seraglio" is the best use of their entertainment dollars,
considering that there might be a staged version soon in the
Opera house next door, or a staged version by an alternative
opera company.

I'm willing to engage in a serious discussion of current problems
in American orchestral culture. But I will request that
everything be on the table for discussion and rigorous debate.


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