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Orchestra: the institution vs the musician


Rue
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I can see why their free-thinking personalities may not be suited to long-term orchestral membership. Even for those who stick it out, isn't there a 10,000 hour rule after which time you've lost any passion for music you may once have had?

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There is definitely a conflict between musical creativity and programming.

If an orchestra is going to be viable it has to cater to the audience. The audience, mostly made up of people who want to hear the"same old", aren't looking for an orchestra members' creativity.

Although, most orchestras, I assume, spotlight some of their musicians on occasion.

So? What is admin supposed to do? If they don't give the audience what it wants, the audience won't pay...and then the musician might find themselves out of a job.

OTOH, the musician is always free to do whatever they please in their spare time, and many do. They still have a creative outlet.

...and the truth is...being an orchestra player is much like being an assembly line worker...

Still, I can think of worse jobs to have. Like those involving plucking dead chickens, etc. ^_^

 

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An orchestra is like any other business.  Red tape, politics, favoritism, all of that non-sense comes into play.  It is unfortunate.  I do believe that many orchestras out there do try and find the balance between delivering quality art and the bottom line dollar.  

As it pertains to the Two Set guys, although I do enjoy them immensely and respect their skill set and craft, they are super young.  In my experience in the non-music professional world, young people do indeed imbue a sense of entitlement that my generation has not really seen before.  So, although I will give them deference and support them, I do so knowing that there is always another side to the story.  Personally, if I was an orchestra manager and a newly minted, 20 year old member asked me if he/she could do an interview the soloist, lets say Perlman, I wouldn't say no, but I also would be thinking go ask yourself, don't use your orchestra position to leverage a way into your personal endeavor.  That is my opinion be it right or wrong.

I agree that they should have been allowed to pursue whatever endeavor in their free time and that the orchestra in question didn't really need to support them, but no need to block them from doing so by restricting access.

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On 7/3/2021 at 2:22 PM, Rue said:

The audience, mostly made up of people who want to hear the"same old", aren't looking for an orchestra members' creativity.

This is a legend...  In my experience, audiences will take what you give them and enjoy it so long as you prepare them well.

Whether it's a thorny classic (e.g. Bartok String Quartet #3) or a new classic (say, a string quartet by Caroline Shaw or Jessie Montgomery), audiences are extremely accepting.  I think orchestra admins think they need to program boring because there are loud complainers and the squeaky wheels get the grease.  I just don't think that data backs up that approach.  The loud complainers are not the majority.  (And many people who think of themselves as only wanting to hear music from 100-300 years ago simply don't know how much they will enjoy modern and contemporary composers.)

It is the job of the artists to lead the way.  We cannot simply supply what our audiences demand, that's how we've gotten into this mess.

(On the other hand, if all you ever do is challenge your audience and provide no context or comfort, that's probably even worse.)

Programming is tough.

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Posted (edited)

Legend? 

Maybe you live in a musically advanced part of the world, but it's not a legend in my neck of the woods. People are very open and polite during discussions about programming, but they also don't show up for anything but the tried and true.

The Messiah always sells out.

I've heard it so many times, I am boycotting it. 

 

 

Edited by Rue
Spellcheck has it out for me...
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1 hour ago, Rue said:

Legend? 

Maybe you live in a musically advanced part of the works, but it's not a legend in my neck of the woods. People are very open and polite during discussions about programming, but they also don't show up for anything but the tried and true.

The Messiah always sells out.

I've heard it so many times, I am boycotting it. 

The mission of the chamber music festival I work with is bringing chamber music to rural locations that lack access to classical music. We've been doing it for a decade now.  My experience is working with audiences who've often never heard a viola before.

So... I'm tellin' ya.  In my experience, the more rural, the more accepting and thoughtful.  My theory is that it's a combination of enthusiasm for and scarcity of art in these out-of-the-way places, but also I find the people in places with limited access to internet/television have longer attention spans.

I promise you, many would, indeed, miss the Messiah if it was only every 5 years, but many, like you, would rather have something else.  And almost everyone, in my experience, will have a good time, even if the music is thorny and unfamiliar, so long as they are properly prepared for the event.  The preparation part is important.

Last year I took a course on arts management through Coursera and the University of Maryland taught by Michael Kaiser (who ran a few of the USA's important arts institutions) called The Cycle that reinforced my view that catering to the audience can only occur after you first invest in the art and artists. I think it's the correct approach for arts institutions of any size.

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I played in a community orchestra for 25 years and the programming was thoughtful and creative.   The programming was done by the music director with support from a committee of orchestra players.  Most concerts had a theme that related pieces being played.  For example we did a "Scottish" program consisting of Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony, Bruch's Scottish Fantasy, and Pee tr Maxwell Davies Orkney Wedding.   The latter was not an old warhorse in any way.   Another themed concert was based on folk music: Bartok, Copland, and Dvorak.  I think we educated the audiences' taste in this way as well as providing a way into contemporary music.  Having an imaginative, charismatic director made all this work.

I think young people are more open minded about music.  Surveys showed that the young, adult audience members were much more receptive to "new" music than the older people.  People who enjoy TwoSet might also enjoy the interviews on YouTube by Nick Canellakis and Michael Brown

 

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