Gilbert alters musician seating at New York Philharmonic

Posted on: September 23, 2009

In Tuesday’s (9/22) New York Times, Daniel J. Wakin writes, “The Alan Gilbert era at the New York Philharmonic has barely hatched, and it is far too early for a full assessment. But some changes, large and small, have already come to light. … He has radically changed the seating formation, splitting the first and second violin sections; the seconds, who used to be behind the firsts on the left, are now in front on the right. The violas, who used to be there, are now inside the second violins. The cellos have shifted to the left, inside the first violins, and the double basses, formerly on the right, have moved behind them. … Mr. Gilbert likes the antiphonal quality between the violins that the seating produces, he said in an interview. He noted that much music was written with this arrangement in mind, especially before the 20th century. … Still, such shifts are major adjustments for orchestra musicians, a bit like moving an infielder to the outfield or turning a wide receiver into a safety. After years of sitting in the same position, the players have to adjust to new sound relationships.”

Posted September 23, 2009