… do you want to answer?

The Pasadena Symphony is the latest regional orchestra to get itself into financial hot water. It won’t be the last. So many second- and third-tier American orchestras are currently struggling to survive that I’ve been asking myself, not for the first time, whether such institutions may possibly have outlived their artistic usefulness. Do regional orchestras make artistic sense now that the ubiquity of downloadable digital music has rendered obsolete their historic function of bringing classical-music masterpieces to smaller communities? Or can these floundering ensembles be successfully “repurposed” for the twenty-first century?

These tough questions are the subject of my “Sightings” column in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. If, like me, you wonder whether and why regional orchestras ought to be saved, pick up a copy of Saturday’s paper and see what I have to say.

He poses the question here. I don’t get the WSJ, so someone else will have to fill me in on his opinion.*

I have mine. And of course I’m in one of those in a “second- and third-tier American orchestras” … so you can probably guess what I think. But briefly I’ll just ask this: is a CD recording the same as a live performance? Does it bring the same excitement? The same “on the edge” playing. (The same stupid English hornist errors?)


*The link has been shared with me, and you can read the full article here.


  1. In 1754, the population of Vienna was 175,000.
    That’s pretty “podunk,” isn’t it?


  2. Thanks for sharing the link, Jack.

    Mr. Teachout — whom I’ve communicated with and appreciate much of the time — sometimes says things that bother me. But I also rarely (ever?) have read a blog entry that talks about going to a live symphony concert. I am not sure he really cares much about my particular field.

    Ah well. I never go to live theater, aside from when someone I know is in a show. I could probably somewhat easily say we don’t really need that any more; I can see it all on the tube if I’m really interested, and more than likely I’m not. But I don’t speak for just me. Some people live for live theater. I live for live symphonic music and opera, among other things.

    Good thing I’m not in charge of the world. Good thing Mr. Teachout isn’t either! Think of what might be missing.

  3. And, let’s not forget ballet…can’t we just watch that on the tube as well? How about professional sports? So much of that on the tube too. I have always thought what could be done if the “major” and the “not so major” sports figures donated 1% of their earnings to the arts…that would more than meet the budgets for many orchestras/ballets/theaters, etc.