As orchestras favor youthful conductors, does programming keep up?

Posted on: May 21, 2013

In Monday’s (5/20) New York Times, Zachary Woolfe writes, “When it comes to classical music these days, the kids—relatively speaking, of course—are all right. The news that the Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, 34, has been named music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is the latest in what has felt like a youth trend in major American ensembles. … There’s been Gustavo Dudamel, who was 28 when he took the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009. Ludovic Morlot, 37, Seattle Symphony. Krzysztof Urbanski, 29, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, 37, Philadelphia Orchestra. … American orchestras are in an uncertain place, threatened with labor unrest and declining subscriber rolls. A fresh-faced youngster bounding onstage inspires excitement  … But youth and youthfulness are two different things, and they shouldn’t be confused. Orchestras should not think that hiring a dynamic 20- or 30-something conductor can take the place of planning dynamic contemporary programs. That’s just old wine in new bottles. … The lesson is that a young, camera-ready conductor, even a very gifted one, means little without a youthfully adventurous orchestra that engages its community.”

Posted May 21, 2013