19. March 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Symphony

I’ve already posted next year’s main season for the symphony, but now there’s an article in the Merc about it.

It looks like money woes continue:

Meanwhile, Bales has expanded his revenue streams, drawing not only from the orchestra’s core classical series (which has seen a dip in attendance as the economy droops), but from its Broadway series (semi-staged productions, with symphony members in the pit), its summer pops festival and its contract work with Ballet San Jose. Even with all these activities, this is “a very tough year financially,” Bales says, complicated by a deficit of about $250,000 last season.

Sigh. That’s the life of an arts organization, yes? Consider donating if you have an extra penny or two! Pretty please?

But (sort of a side note question) is the orchestra for the semi-staged musical really in the pit? I only went to one production — finding the miked sound too hard for my poor ears so I actually couldn’t stay — and the musicians were on stage. Anyone else attended one of these? Guess I can ask a colleague Monday night, when we meet for our first Brahms rehearsal.

Bales’s decision was, and remains, controversial. Quite a few music lovers, including this writer, believe that a music director — the right music director — would hold the orchestra to consistent technical standards in performance, unlocking and sharpening its sound, section by section, establishing a richer vision and forward path.

The response from Bales — and many of his musicians agree — is that the orchestra’s vision already is unique. They add that a rotating cast of guest conductors (including several who return with some regularity) is a fiscally prudent alternative to an expensive music director (who may or may not hit it off with the players). It keeps the orchestra flexible and open to different musical perspectives.

I have mixed feelings about not having a permanent conductor. I think having a “face” would be a good idea. I think having someone who becomes very familiar with our strengths and weaknesses would be good. I think developing a “sound” would be great. But we are such a part-time group, that rarely do we have the same orchestra, much less the same conductor. And it is true that some return time after time and they seem to be well aware of strengths and weaknesses.

1 Comment

  1. I think you’ve got that right, Patty.