Author Topic: Contemporary Programming Takes Another Hit  (Read 9351 times)

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karlhenning

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Re: Contemporary Programming Takes Another Hit
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2007, 05:47:14 AM »
Reminds me of the story of how Cage met Feldman, both bailing out at the intermission of a NY Phil concert in which Webern Op 21 was on the first half, neither wanting to stick around for the Rachmaninoff.

Egbdf

Yet, you know, Eegeebee, I cringe a little at such stories, admiring both Webern and Rakhmaninov, as I do  8)

. . . I personally have not bought tickets as often to our local symphony, because, my god, you can only hear Beethoven's 5th so many times. Beethoven and Brahms are big favorites here, Dvorak's 9th is another regular. I'd rather opt for going to Houston to partake of their diverse programming over hearing a warhorse again at a local concert. . . .

Greta, this underscores my point, that if the major orchestras just program the tried-and-well-digested repertoire, it essentially treats the concert hall as a wing of hospice;  it is resigning itself to eventual extinction.  Ironic, since the buzz over such programming decisions tends to spin the "we've got to keep the bums in the seats!" rallying cry.

Offline aquablob

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Re: Contemporary Programming Takes Another Hit
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2007, 06:53:02 AM »
This is one piece of the truth;  but it has not at all been the "plain and simple truth" in the case of two seasons of intensive Beethoven-&-Schoenberg programming here in Boston.  I am sure there were regular patrons who elected to attend  concerts other than those including Schoenberg;  but the story has been richer than a simple exodus.

Of course I was not implying that the result would be a "simple exodus"; I was making a sweeping generalization, which I thought was apparent. My point was that one must be careful in developing such programs.

The majority of patrons (in my experience) are not aficionados and find much of the 20th-century repertoire -- particularly atonal music -- foreign and even offensive to the ears. Many of them probably don't even know the names of the composers whose music they would find painful to hear. If they are drawn to a particular program, then, by a Beethoven symphony, and find themselves suddenly stuck in a concert hall listening to what they'd likely describe as "terrible noise," they may feel insulted, as though they have been "tricked" into listening to music in which they have no interest.

And to some extent, they would be right -- MDs frequently use the warhorses as a sort of "bait" to champion lesser-known works. They have to, or the lesser-known works will never turn into better-known works. It is a necessary strategy, but it must be done carefully.

I'm not saying Beethoven-and-Schoenberg programming can never work; there are, of course, many variables, such as the way the season as a whole is programmed (are there enough easily-accessible programs for the casual listener?) and the particular demographics and interests of the specific locale. My point is that as a business you must always be sensitive to the tastes of your clientele. In Chicago, the clientele grew quite weary of Barenboim's programming choices (and attitude).

For the record, I very much respect Daniel Barenboim's musicianship and artistic integrity.

Offline Catison

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Re: Contemporary Programming Takes Another Hit
« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2007, 06:55:21 AM »
Yet, you know, Eegeebee, I cringe a little at such stories, admiring both Webern and Rakhmaninov, as I do  8)

I like them both too, but I cringe at such a horrible programming choice.  I mean, who wants to listen to anything after Webern?
-Brett

Offline Brewski

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Re: Contemporary Programming Takes Another Hit
« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2007, 08:14:39 AM »
I hope our new MD will have some good ideas in this direction and be able to win enough trust to achieve them. The candidates look strong, and the curiosity and big pieces they're auditioning should help tickets sell. List of Candidates and Programs

I'm most interested in the young Asian woman who is assistant in Seattle (Carolyn Kuan). Her bio describes her as "a keen advocate of new music". She's first out of the box with Tchaikovsky's 5th, I'll be pulling for her.

Yes, I would agree that Carolyn Kuan would be an exciting choice.  Wes Kenney looks good, too (and came up with a good program).  It can't be easy, trying to satisfy all constituencies.  But there is plenty of contemporary music that has nothing to do with the Second Viennese School, that would appeal to audiences of all types. 

For example, how about Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, for soprano and orchestra?  I would be that would be very successful on a program virtually anywhere, especially if given good program notes and perhaps a few short, well-chosen remarks by the conductor just before playing it. 

--Bruce
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karlhenning

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Re: Contemporary Programming Takes Another Hit
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2007, 02:48:45 AM »
In the version I know of the way Feldman tells the story, he doesn't describe it as bailing out or that Rachmaninoff was on the second half. But as Catison points out, perhaps it was not wanting to hear Rach after Webern.

This makes perfect sense, of course.