Opinion: Orchestras need to get with the times

Posted on: December 19, 2018

“The orchestral scene today remains in thrall to safety,” writes Igor Toronyi-Lalic in Thursday’s (12/13) Guardian (U.K.). “It favors those who’ve studied with the right people, at the right schools and universities and have the right profile and publishers. Composing in the approved idioms is always preferred over something more raw, exploratory, problematic or new…. In today’s climate, Berlioz, Wagner or Mussorgsky (all of whom were accused in their time of not being ‘properly taught’) wouldn’t stand a chance…. Last month, one orchestra claimed to have revolutionized the concert format by introducing talking from the podium. … It seems to me a perfect example of the kind of straw man set up by marketing departments … to claim an orchestra is being groundbreaking…. Sure, [some organizations] have started to force festivals to put their house in order with admirable programs that compel orchestras to ensure a 50:50 gender split but there still doesn’t seem to be a full understanding of why you might want to open up this art form…. Like banks, most orchestras are too big to fail: self-preservation trumps exploration…. The potential for dissecting the orchestra conceptually—for prodding and poking it, for sticking it under a social and psychological microscope—remains untapped.”

Posted December 19, 2018