Reinventing the post-pandemic American orchestra

Posted on: February 16, 2021

“Just think how overwhelming it will be to see the New York Philharmonic onstage at Lincoln Center this fall—when, we hope, it returns after an 18-month absence,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Friday’s (2/12) New York Times. “The coronavirus pandemic has taught us never again to take live music for granted. Yet simply a return to normalcy in the music world will not do. The closures of concert halls and opera houses have revealed how fragile the economic support system for classical music actually is…. Major institutions have been grappling not just with survival, but also with questions of mission, relevance and inclusion, issues that became even more acute when nationwide demonstrations for racial justice broke out.… These questions are driving talks and planning at all American performing arts institutions. But … our orchestras, which, for all their many admirable yet scattered efforts at innovation and outreach, remain reluctant to make fundamental changes to how their seasons are presented…. Now is the moment for orchestras to think big and take chances.” Tommasini suggests revamping traditional subscription seasons and “approaching programming with exciting new ideas; fostering music by living composers … educating audiences both in the halls and in communities.”