Reducing costs of pit orchestras reduces quality

Posted on: January 26, 2010

Monday (1/25) on The Huffington Post, Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, writes, “There is a disturbing trend in the American musical theater. Producers are reducing the size of orchestras for most revivals and new musicals are being written with smaller ensembles versus the large scale orchestras that I grew up expecting to hear in the theater. I appreciate the pressure to reduce costs of production. Anyone working in the live performing arts appreciates that because we do not increase productivity year in and year out, as other industries do, the arts suffer from a higher rate of inflation than in other sectors. … This problem is exacerbated by another economic reality. Because we do not add seats to our theater every year, our real earned income does not grow. … So naturally, attention has turned to ways to reduce other costs. But cutting the size of the orchestra and replacing acoustic instruments with synthesizers does not only reduce cost; it also reduces quality. Some of the audiences may be fooled, but an ensemble of nine instruments cannot produce the same sound, the same overtones, and the same sense of excitement as an orchestra of 28.”

Posted January 26, 2010