Should orchestras take a more flexible, quicker approach to artistic planning?

Posted on: January 27, 2021

“In 1908, the 51-year-old composer Edward Elgar premiered his First Symphony…. It received 82 performances within the first year alone,” writes Joshua Kosman in Tuesday’s (1/26) San Francisco Chronicle. “In today’s hyperlinked world, you might think this kind of runaway phenomenon would be even more common. But it’s not—in part because most orchestras and opera companies operate on a pre-internet time scale…. ‘What has always bothered me about the rigid long-term planning of symphony orchestras,’ San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen told me, ‘is that if I heard something exciting—a new young conductor or singer, or a fantastic new piece—I would have to wait for two seasons to plug that into my orchestra.’ … Says Matías Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra, ‘It strikes me how much of our world goes on just because this is the way it’s always been done….’ [In] the post-COVID reset across all the arts … maybe it’s a matter of assembling shorter performance seasons … leaving more spots in the calendar ‘TBA.’ … Move fast … and the next time an Elgar First comes along, we’ll all be able to hear it live, without having to wait.”