What’s Going on with America’s Orchestras?

Last weekend, while in Louisville KY for their Klezmer Festival, I had the great pleasure to attend a fantastic concert by the Louisville Orchestra. The program included Respighi’s Pines of Rome, the Grieg piano concerto, and Brahms’ 2nd Symphony. Daryl Johnson, principal tuba, played wonderfully and made it look easy. I enjoyed the entire brass section, and was equally impressed with every single section. My friends Kathy and Matthew Karr, who are members of the orchestra, explained to me the financial challenges facing their orchestra, and expressed their concern for the future of the orchestra. It was a very emotional concert for all of the players, and probably the most enjoyable for me as a member of the audience. I sincerely wish them the best, this orchestra is absolutely world-class, and their players and patrons deserve to continue thriving.

Louisville is the not the first orchestra to have problems, nor will it be the last, and of course, the recent economic problems have a lot to do with it. I’m not sure what will solve each orchestra’s problems, but I don’t have a lot of faith in boards of directors – as they often put the bottom line ahead of the artistic integrity, and the finances ahead of the careers and financial obligations of the musicians. The blogosphere and news wires have plenty of stories and opinions on the subject, here are a few:

Wall Street Journal article Regional Orchestras in the Spotlight

Newsworks article Struggling Philadelphia Orchestra Suffers from ‘Cost Disease’

Wall Street Journal’s 24/7 Blog article The Death Of Classical Music in America

Keep Louisville Symphonic

Out of Tune from Leo Weekly

From the Globe and Mail interview with Leonard Slatkin

From Tony’s Blog (from the office of the president of the New England Conservatory) American Orchestras; Yes, it’s a Crisis

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