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Classical Ensembles, and Audiences, in the 21st Century

October 3, 2016

"Classical music is dying" is a familiar trope, with many high-profile orchestras struggling to find audiences and fund their institutions. The recent trend of strikes, lockouts, and high-stakes labor negotiations between ensemble administrations and musicians has been in the news again lately, with the announcement this weekend that both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia orchestra musicians would walk out on the very beginnings of their season.

 

The New York Times highlighted this latest set of labor strife with an informative article that began to unwind both the negative and positive news regarding orchestral contracts:

 

New York Times: For Orchestras in the U.S., So Much Depends on Their Communities’ Fortunes


On the positive end, Douglas McLennon, of the arts blog Diacritical, focused on some of the more positive labor news, and successes of smaller, lower-profile orchestras, in his recent post:

 

Diacritical: Some Of Our Orchestras Seem To Be Thriving – Is This A New Trend?

 

These two articles called to mind a post on Slate from early 2015, where Alec MacGillis dialed deeper into what may be causing some of these "lower-tier" orchestras to find more success than their "higher-tier" counterparts, from the perspective of a patron and audience member. He highlights the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, their recent outreach concerts, and low-cost, "young professional" subscriptions as beacons of success for the ensemble, as well as the cultural benefits of living in a vibrant, affordable, renewing city such as Baltimore.

 

Slate: The Rust Belt Theory of Low-Cost High Culture

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