Opinion: orchestra repertoire must reflect changing world

Posted on: April 21, 2016

“If there is one thing that I have learned in my unusual career as a conductor, it’s that our field is in a state of becoming, rather than of being,” writes Michael Lewanski on Wednesday (4/20) at New York classical radio station WQXR. “The world changes, and so how could the culture that is part of it and reflects it not also change? The particular question of what music is played (i.e. repertoire) is a thorny one…. Why do we … think the music of Beethoven is ‘standard repertoire’ but that of our own period is ‘new music’? … The orchestra as an institution and the orchestra as an artistic body must respond … to the needs of an ever-changing world…. My provisional answers involve starting with and bringing to the artistic forefront the continued relevance, to our world now, of the symphony orchestra as an artistic, cultural, and political body. … The orchestra now is a reflection of our social and cultural climate, every bit as much as it was in the 19th century. It’s just that this climate is very different and possibly more multifarious in 2016.” Lewanski is conductor of the Chicago-based Ensemble Dal Niente.

Posted April 21, 2016