I’ve been thinking a lot about our economy recently. I’m wondering how $4 per gallon gas, a weakening dollar, the sub-prime mortgage mess, a huge federal deficit, and other economic trends will affect the micro-economy of classical music. The challenge for organizations like the Chicago Sinfonietta is that we make artistic commitments and budget assumptions up to 18 months in advance. Who knew last January when we were finalizing our 2008-2009 season that the stock market would decline significantly and that gas prices would set daily records? Would we have done anything differently had we known that the economy was headed for a downturn? Hmmm….. So,
How do you think will these factors affect attendance?
How do you think funding and sponsorship might be affected?
How should we as arts managers react to uncertain times like these?
What other factors do you anticipate affecting classical music in the future? Maybe I’m a bit pessimistic, but I’m not real happy with what I’m hearing and seeing right now. Can someone talk me down off the ledge?
Well, Asimo (the Honda robot) recently “conducted” a piece with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the sky didn’t fall. Chicago Opera Theater provided a live simul-cast of Don Giovanni on a screen in Millennium Park earlier this month and no one seemed to object. And this summer the Grant Park Music Festival will present a concert of Indian music performed with a screening of a vintage Bollywood movie. What is our classical music world coming to?
It seems to me that these are all great examples of the field seeking new and exciting ways of appealing to audiences, both new and old. I plan on attending the Grant Park concert on July 30th and am also very interested in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of The Inca Trail, an evening of Peruvian music scheduled for next October.
Yes, my tastes do run in these directions, but I’m wondering if there are a good number of people out there who also enjoy these types of performances. What do you, our faithful readers, think?
A couple of strange things have crossed my computer screen this week and I would really love to get your opinion about them.
Earlier this week a friend emailed me an article about a robot conducting an orchestra. Okay, hold the jokes about conductors for a second. Honda’s ASIMO humanoid robot will take command of the baton in Detroit on May 13 and will conduct the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as it performs Impossible Dream to open a concert performance featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
I think we can all agree that robots are unlikely to replace humans on the podium anytime soon. What’s interesting about this is that Honda is a major donor to DSO, and one gets the feeling that putting ASIMO on the podium might somehow be tied to the sponsorship. I’m all for acknowledging the wonderful corporate partners who support our work, but does this go too far?
Another item that caught my eye was from the League of American Orchestra’s newsletter. Apparently classical composers and folk musicians are collaborating on creating new music for orchestras. Not exactly a new idea given the use of folk music themes throughout classical music history, but up until recently, using folk influences was considered déclassé. How do you feel about this renewed interest in vernacular music?
Finally, speaking of traditional music, the Chicago Sinfonietta will be presenting the world premiere of Three Songs for Blues Singer and Orchestra created by composer/arranger Larry Hoffman on May 11th and 12th featuring Muddy Water’s long-time guitarist, John Primer. We are pleased to offer registered users of this site a “hot deal” to attend this concert that will also feature pianist Leon Bates performing Rhapsody in Blue and Pictures at an Exhibition performed with a never-before-seen video created by astronomer and video artist José Francisco Salgado.
I haven’t posted for a while but I do have a good excuse. In the last few weeks the Chicago Sinfonietta presented it’s Celebration of Women in Classical Music concerts that generated one of the best reviews we’ve ever received, Paul Freeman and I traveled to San Francisco to participate in a meeting convened by the Wallace Foundation, and last weekend, we hosted our Annual Ball that featured a scintillating performance by international superstar, Denyce Graves. Today feels like the first time I’ve been able to take a breath for weeks!
During that time, I also received an email from the Harris Theater announcing an exciting collaboration they are doing with Chicago Opera Theater and Millennium Park. On Friday, May 9th COT’s production of Don Giovanni will be broadcast live beginning at 7:30 p.m. on a giant screen at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. Thanks to a major sponsorship from Boeing, thousands of people will be able to experience this event free-of-charge.
Speaking of Millennium Park, the Sinfonietta will make its debut at the Pritzker Pavilion on August 22nd with an encore performance of The Planets by Holst featuring an incredible video created by Dr. Jose Francisco Salgado of the Adler Planetarium.
Finally, yours truly recently received a bit of news that I still can’t quite believe. This humble attempt at discussing classical music with you has been rated very favorably by Blogged.com. Check out their site for more ratings.
Until next time, please keep your comments coming!
Last Saturday (April 5) marked the premiere of Introductions, a brand-new weekly program on 98.7 WFMT (Saturdays from 11:00am-12:00pm) which features Chicago-area pre-collegiate musicians doing what they love most; playing classical music.
"It's important to reach out specifically to this younger audience which is enthusiastic about classical music, that we hadn't tried to explicitly attract until now," said David Polk, the show's producer. "I'm excited that I get to expand WFMT's reach and pioneer new ways to connect with audiences via the airwaves and also the internet."
Read more about Introductions and Polk in this article in the recent TimeOut! Magazine.