New York Philharmonic’s “joyous racket” brings in curious public

Posted on: July 6, 2011

In the July 3 issue of New York magazine, Justin Davidson writes, “It’s been a desperate time in a classical-music world pummeled by strikes, deficits, and closures, but when the New York Philharmonic closed out its season with Doug Fitch’s merrily ambitious production of Janácek’s opera The Cunning Little Vixen, misery took a holiday. Giant sunflowers dominated the stage; children in beasties costumes hopped, slithered, and sang; Isabel Bayrakdarian shook her furry tail and embodied the Platonic ideal of a soprano fox. … At the end of his second year as music director, Alan Gilbert is renewing [symphonic music’s] claim for attention rather than dwelling on its eroded prestige. Instead of performing contemporary works out of a grudging sense of duty, he uses them as a come-on for a curious public. When the orchestra staged György Ligeti’s spectacularly weird and electrifying opera Le Grand Macabre last year, nearly 30 percent of the audience was attending its first New York Philharmonic concert. … Such evenings of joyous racket give the orchestra a daredevil swagger and chip away at a mountain of toxic misconceptions: that classical-music concerts are snobbish, rarefied, preposterously expensive affairs governed by rules of decorum that only the initiated can parse.”

Posted July 6, 2011