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On the Road Again

The indispensible Alex Ross is back from a fact finding mission to gauge the state of serious music making in the provinces and his report, in this week’s New Yorker (yes, the New Yorker) finds cause for optimism.   

What’s the state of serious music making in your city?


Comment from zeno
Time: June 19, 2007, 4:16 pm

“What’s the state of serious music making in your city?” (JB)

Well, in this provincial capital city the state of serious music making is certainly unsorted, if not downright troubled…. (Back in the late 1970s, the cultural limousine liberals, hereabouts, were wishfully thinking that with the new Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian, and Roger Stevens and Mstislav Rostropovich, the Nation’s Capital was set to replace New York City as the ‘cultural capital’ of the United States….

More recently, the National Symphony was hoping to hire Ivan Fisher as its new Permanent Music Director, and then bring in a promising American conductor as principal guest conductor. However, Mr Fisher finds Budapest, Hungary a more promising classical music eco-system than Washington, D.C., and balked at uprooting his young family to the humid banks of the Potomac. He did, however, accept the position of principal guest conductor, leaving the NSO Board to pray for Lorin Maazel’s longevity, while fearing that they might have to settle for another, this time younger and more dynamic, permanent American music director/conductor. Or they can try to split the pie for a few more troubled years by, in effect, hiring three principle guest conductors — e.g., Maazel, Fisher, and Gilbert/Wolff.

I fear that the NSO will spend the next few aimless years embracing sage Henry Fogel’s call for lighter, classical music programming. Leonard Slatkin already began this trend years back with his pointless “Serious Fun” type NSO programming ….

Board Members are reportedly pressing the Washington National Opera to break its publically proclaimed commitment to producing one American opera each and every season … Next fall is William Bolcom’s turn [A View from the Bridge]; and the board fears the pot is near empty. [Adamo’s Little Women will soon be mounted by Catholic University’s Summer Opera Theater.]

Serious Post-classical music is now stronger than Serious Classical music at the classically-renowned Library of Congress:

Serious Classical music is now very strong at the National Gallery of Art, while World Music is in expert hands at the Freer/Sackler Galleries:

Bach, unlike other earlier Western masters, continues to be very well presented:

Public radio does not now play modern music or American music — and all seriously curated programming, whether of orchestral, choral, early Western classical music, or American folk music has been dumped …

I’ll let younger observors comment on the serious music scenes at the local universities (Peabody and U. of MD. are probably the strongest); and the new and experimental music venues.