At 40, Wolf Trap changes, but also stays the same

Posted on: August 2, 2011

In Saturday’s (7/30) Washington Post, Anne Midgette writes, “The arts in America are borne on the visions of private citizens. Wolf Trap, America’s only national park for the arts, was the brainchild of Catherine Filene ‘Kay’ Shouse, a wealthy, well-connected Washington widow who had a property she loved and a desire to bring more arts to more people more of the time. … This year, Wolf Trap is turning 40 years old. … Now as then, Wolf Trap aims to present a range of art, from musicals to Chinese acrobats to Dolly Parton; now as then, it basically represents middlebrow taste. … What’s changed is the definition of ‘middlebrow.’ In the 1970s and 1980s, people were eager to see touring ballet companies and Martha Graham, lighter orchestral concerts and well-known classical stars: Yehudi Menuhin, Jessye Norman, composer Aaron Copland conducting programs of his own works. Today, there’s no longer much of a market for ballet and opera company tours (the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera, once frequent Wolf Trap visitors, abandoned their regular national tours years ago). And orchestra concerts are not the draw they once were. … Rather than bringing a taste of the [National Symphony Orchestra]’s regular season to a wider public, these concerts deliberately reach out to the tastes of a non-classical audience: ‘Video Games Live,’ ‘Disney in Concert.’ ”

Posted August 2, 2011