kyle cassidy (kylecassidy) wrote,
kyle cassidy

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Back to the Orchestra

Here's us. You can Clickenzee to Embiggen.

So we went to see the Philadelphia Orchestra last night for the first time since I'd written my blog post "Why the Philadelphia Orchestra should have more of my money (and how they should get it)" (which also generated a lot of buzz on tumblr). There had been lots of response and emails from musicians and orchestras all around the world and I got invited to join various orchestra brainstorming groups -- and it seemed my ideas weren't as pie-in-the-sky as I'd initially thought they might be. Oddly enough I didn't hear from the Philadelphia Orchestra -- though a bunch of their musicians had re-blogged it to Facebook.

Trillian's fancy outfit.

I also got a lot of emails from musicians explaining the behind-the-scenes complexities of the relationship between the orchestra, the management, the board, and the Kimmel Center (the building the orchestra mostly plays in) which turns out to be ... byzantine.

But still no reason why an orchestra couldn't be doing things that rock bands touring the country in a beat up van with a single person handeling merch aren't already doing.

In any event, this was, I think, our second time seeing the ellusive Yannick Nézet-Séguin conduct and our verdict is that he's fun to watch -- he conducts with passion. The program included Ravel - La Valse, Szymanowski - Violin Concerto No. 2, played by violinist Leonidas Kavakos who, in an adorably nerdy way looks like he just got off the road with Dinosaur Jr. After the intermission was Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5 which we'd seen a few years ago. The final movement is kind of like being fired out of a cannon and it got the audience on it's feet and we ended up feeling like we'd seen something pretty spectacular and we were getting ready to head home.

While we were waiting for the isles to clear, John Koen, one of the cellists walked over to the lip of the stage and introduced himself -- he said he'd read the blog post, recognized us and wanted to talk a bit about some of the ideas. We invited him out to a nearby pub and I tried to give my best thoughts, as an audience member and, in whatever way, supporter of the arts, about what I thought was working well and what wasn't working well, where I felt I was getting my money's worth and where I wasn't. He took notes, we had a great time.

Wolfgang Puck managed to get $6 out of us for this. #Shame (This is where I wasn't happy about how the orchestra was getting my cash.)

It's interesting to see the divide that really still seems to exist between "popular" (i.e. "rock") music and classical music. In a lot of ways it's like the wave hasn't hit the classical music boat yet and even if it has it might not be effecting things the same ways (piracy of classical music albums, for example, isn't nearly the problem of piracy for, say, My Chemical Romance. There are also models that work for popular music that just won't work for classical music (tweeting during a show, for example, or posting phone videos during the performance) because of the very nature of the music and the way it's played.) And there's still the matter of how music is funded -- by and large classical music, at least in major orchestras, is still funded on the model of "find fifty rich people and have them each give us half a million dollars" rather than the way most pop bands are making money ("find 5,000 retail store clerks & computer programmers and have them each give us ten dollars").

There's also a big divide in how music is made and who the key people are in this -- apart from funders, there's management, there's the conductor, there are guest soloists, there are the people who own the venues -- and between all these there are contracts, and negotiations and ... well, it's more complicated than four guys in a van trying to figure out if they can book a show in New Haven on their way from New York to Toronto.

So, it's complex. And our orchestra has gotten themselves in the red and I'd like to see them get out of that in a way that's sustainable and that attracts new people to performances because I know we have a wonderful time there and last night there were plenty of empty seats that I wish you were in.

Checking out the program in an outfit by Kambriel

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