14. August 2005 · Comments Off on Fellows · Categories: imported, Ramble

I used to read Jeff Tsai’s blog (although I could barely deal with it because of the black background, white type) when he was in the fellowship program and now the new Orchestra Management Fellowship Program members have their own blog. It might be fun reading, and I’m sure will be interesting reading. It can be educational for those of us on stage to read what potential new managers are thinking.

14. August 2005 · Comments Off on What Matters Most · Categories: imported, Ramble

There’s an article in the Los Angeles Times that discusses the great orchestras here in the States, and it was a good read.

One thing the writer says is:

But what makes an orchestra thrive is a combination of many factors. The music director matters most.

This is an interesting thing to ponder here; our (my?) own Symphony Silicon Valley has no music director. I don’t believe there are plans to have one. I do wonder about that. How much is an orchestra identified by its music director? How much of an orchestra’s sound is due to having one music director? Do the musicians benefit from having one music director? Does the orchestra’s city benefit from having the music director? What does not having a music director do to the sound and the identity?

He also writes (earlier in the article … am I cheating if I’m quoting out of order like this?):

… hustlers abound. Some tout specially programmed PDAs as a way to attract technological multitaskers. You can have music explained to you while it is played by following real-time commentary on the device’s small screen. If that’s too boring, you can switch over to the video function and see a fuzzy close-up of the conductor. Still bored? Pull out your Palm Pilot and plan your week or play solitaire. No one will know the difference.

In the face of all this, singles are singled out for special concerts. So are harried commuters. Video gamers are courted with orchestral renditions of their favorite computer sound effects. The musically curious are offered educational skits featuring second-rate actors dressed as composers and other historical figures.

Such publicity stunts may attract new listeners to the concert hall for a time or two, but they do little to build committed audiences, let alone to advance the art form. What works, I’ve found traveling around the country, what gets audiences really worked up, is when orchestral music, old and new, is played with real fervor. And perhaps a bit of smart, interesting talk or conversation thrown in.

Hmmm. I have to think on this one. But my initial reaction is “Yes!” I know a lot of folks will disagree with this though. I just don’t like gimmicks. I don’t (want to) believe you gotta have one.

And then he writes this:

What must not be forgotten, however, is that people like orchestras. Even the movies know that. Two of the summer’s biggest blockbusters, “Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith” and “War of the Worlds,” are unthinkable without John Williams’ traditional orchestral scores. His music may be derivative of such 20th century composers as William Walton, but that traditional approach to scoring has been integral to the filmmaking of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg almost from the beginning of their spectacularly successful careers. From this fact alone, we can take hope.

And then I wonder about the orchestra that have decides to do a concert of Star Wars music. Isn’t that a gimmick? (Or, as he calls it, a stunt?)

So maybe I’m going to backtrack and say “Well, okay. I’ll take a gimmick now and then. I just want to be able to choose what it is and make sure it’s not entirely tacky or ridiculous!” After all, I did enjoy playing the Dear Friends: Music of Final Fantasy concert at the gamers’ conference (This reviewer liked it as well), and it was incredibly encouraging to see all those young faces.

Just things I’m thinking about for the moment. (I can do a lot of thinking as I watch The Giants lose play.)