In the spirit of the holidays, I am delighted to share a link with you that will get you free music downloads from one of the greatest orchestras in the world.
These are outstanding recordings of recent performances by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra are absolutely free! The offer expires at the end of December. Grab 'em now!
Franz Schubert - Symphony no. 8 'Unfinished'
Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony no. 2
Felix Mendelssohn - Symphony no. 4 'Italian'
César Franck - Symphony in D minor
Gustav Mahler - Symphony no. 1
Antonin Dvorák - Symphony no. 8
Camille Saint-Saëns - Symphony no. 3 'Organ'
Jean Sibelius - Symphony no. 2
Anton Bruckner - Symphony no. 8
Johannes Brahms - Symphony no. 2
Click here and enjoy.
Thanks to Sinfonietta violinist and webmaster Dave Belden for passing this on to me.
No one has written about this yet on chicagoclassicalmusic.org so I get to do it. Gramophone Magazine, a British publication, has named our very own Chicago Symphony Orchestra as the number one ranked orchestra in the United States, and the fifth highest ranked orchestra in the world. Congratulations to our friends and colleagues at the CSO. It’s nice to see others recognize what we in Chicago have known for a long time – this band rocks! I am including the full list for those of you who haven’t yet seen it.
At the end of May I wrote a blog entitled, “It’s the Economy, Stupid”, that posed some questions about how the economic downturn might affect ticket sales and fundraising. One respondent suggested that I was letting the media “blow the downturn out of proportion”, while another recommended that I should be careful about whom I call stupid.
Today, an exceptionally astute reader noted that my May blog was “a premonition of sorts” and asked how I thought the economy might affect the arts looking forward. I should probably quit while I’m ahead, but what fun would that be? Here are some observations, opinions, and thoughts.
We are already seeing lagging ticket sales for some of the bigger events that have taken place this fall, and I personally know of a few funders that are either cutting back or ceasing their arts funding altogether.
I expect that over the next 6-18 months we will see things getting worse. I suspect that the next economic “shoe to drop” will be credit card debt, and my guess is that the stock market will be slow to recover. As a result, I would not be surprised to see a few of the smaller arts organizations going out of business, and most arts organizations operating more conservatively than normal. The big guys will do okay – they have a lot of resources, but more importantly, the type of broad-based community support that makes going out of business almost impossible. No, it’s the smaller organizations that will feel the brunt of this brutal economy. This is a time to hunker down and survive.
Here is my prescription for the arts in a tough economy:
1. Budget for a worst-case scenario and be pleasantly surprised if/when you outperform it.
2. Don’t sacrifice programming excellence or audience development activities. Present brilliant programming.
3. Work hard on advancing sustainable relationships with ticket buyers and donors.
4. Stay focused on executing against your strategic plan and don’t get sidetracked.
5. Develop restructuring options in case the worse happens.
6. Be very thankful you work in the arts and not in the real estate or financial sector.
These are a few of my thoughts. Please chime in with yours. Maybe together we can think our way out of this mess!
Today's guest blog is written by Stefan Lano who will conduct the Chicago Sinfonietta during the upcoming performances of the opera Margaret Garner at the Auditorium Theater beginning November 1st.
As we prepare for the production of Margaret Garner at the Auditorium Theater, I am pleased to share some thoughts with you about this important opera.
Although, the commissioning venues of Michigan Opera Theater, the Cincinnati Opera and The Opera Company of Philadelphia were most generous in alotting ample time and funding for workshops prior to the world premiere here in Detroit, both hindsight and the experience gained through repeated performances will inevitably color subsequent re- visitations to this score. That this is now the case, became evident at our first rehearsals and run-throughs of the
opera this past week. The goals and priorities set by production teams of most any opera, play or film are pretty
much the same: 1. tell the story clearly and with dramatic efficiency; 2. entertain the public while, hopefully, simultaneously edifying them; 3. try to achieve a sense of closure at evening's end such that the public feels that they have been 'taken somewhere.'
An example of point number 3, would be the ambience in the public when the reprise of the Aria is reached in Bach's Goldberg Variations; or the sense of tragic inevitability at the end of Verdi's Otello as opposed to the comic inevitabiltiy at the end of his Falstaff. Point number 2 is a bit more subtle. In some opera, such as Mozart's Magic Flute, the moral of a given scene is presented as an aside in the form of the ensembles where the characters address the public more directly rather than each other. In an opera such as Margaret Garner, the message of Toni Morrison is, as one would expect from a literary national treasure, inherent in her story. Thus do we arrive at the conundrum articulated by Madeleine in the final scene of Richard Strauss' Capriccio: do the words or the music take precedence?
Rather than argue for one or the other, I have always found that if the notion of effective theater is well-served, then both words and music are better clarified. In the case of this run of Margaret Garner, this notion dictates our modus operandi perhaps moreso than the first time around. The care taken in the preparation of any first performance is, more often than not, devoted to 'getting it right', especially when composer and librettist may be present. There is, however, more to theater than merely getting it right. One can get the words and the notes right while missing their element of dramatic marriage. From the resonance of the opening productions of Margaret Garner, it seems that most would agree that we 'got it right.'
It bespeaks the vision of David Di Chiera in his mounting a reprise of Margaret Garner relatively soon after the premier. His decision is now the more felicitous as we approach an historic Presidential election in which an African-American could well become our next President. That our country evolve as to embrace change.
In the spirit of opera being an art form in perpetual evolution, Kenny Leon and I intend to greatly expand upon that which we presented some years ago and are especially thrilled that we will do so in the architectural landmark of the Roosevelt Theatre about which one can only echo George Ballanchine's comment: 'Why don't they build them like this any more...?" Amen.
All best wishes to you,