Sunday, October 7, 2012

What is going on!?!?!?!

The blogosphere and other media are buzzing.  The arts are doomed!!  Minnesota Orchestra is locked out, Atlanta Symphony just settled with HUGE concessions, and even Chicago Symphony may be in trouble.  Even America's venerable music conservatories are announcing cuts and trying to "rightsize" their programs.

Disgust for modern day buzzwords and rhetoric aside, one has to wonder: IS this a symptom of the times?  Are orchestras, conservatories, and classical music in general really doomed?  I have heard arts administrators call the symphony orchestra and the string quartet "dinosaurs."

Consider this, over 150 years ago, a music critic, disgusted by dwindling attendance at concerts and what he considered to be a lack of appreciation for musical genius, proclaimed the death of the symphony orchestra and classical music in general.  That music critic was composer Hector Berlioz, who some might even call the "father of the modern day symphony."

Art is and should be a reflection of the times. It is also what people turn to in hard times for comfort and inspiration.  The arts today in this rapidly changing media driven world are more alive than ever, but must be strong while holding to traditional forms, and flexible in their delivery and communication. And most importantly, in the wise words of conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski:

"Any important cultural organization must have a clear-sighted artistic vision as the number one priority. No amount of business plans or financial strategies can succeed in the long term unless they are underpinned by an artistic policy that aspires to the very highest level. Artistic leadership is crucial to this end."