from Wednesday, July23rd of the year2008.
First of all, don’t say “Rihm.” But having established the ground rules, everybody should read this article by Tony Tommasini in the Times. It’s a couple days old, I know, but I was in Vermont and I didn’t have Access. In it, Tommasini interviews Thomas Morris, an orchestra consultant:
Yet what exactly constitutes an adventurous program? The term is thrown around by critics who routinely prod stodgy American orchestras to be more challenging. Mr. Morris is probably right that in the public mind “adventurous” has become code for “contemporary music.” But the issue is more complicated.
Quite so. And, Tommasini goes on to articulate that programs of all contemporary music (All Rihm All The Time!) are actually less “adventurous,” because they don’t constitute, as it were, an exciting juxtaposition. I totally agree; I have to say that orchestral programs of entirely 21st century music are a little bit daunting to me; I like Classical Music because I like feeling the weight of all that history, both acknowledged and unacknowledged, lurking above and behind contemporary output. I wrote about this (and other issues) earlier this year for the National Performing Arts Convention’s Blog this year; it’s good to see these ideas in print every few months.
It’s not hard to program adventurously, just as it isn’t hard to eat adventurously. It’s actually pretty easy. Even the New York Philharmonic is doing it! May 14 2009: Lutoslawski: Concerto for Orchestra, Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1, Sibelius: Symphony No. 5! Rock it out! None of that is particularly outrageous, those are all classics, but I like the juxtaposition a lot.
I’m even excited for October 2, 2008: J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, Bernard Rands: CHAINS LIKE THE SEA (World Premiere: New York Philharmonic Commission), Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 3. Bernard Rands, whose music I have heard piles of but never remember, wrote a piece for the Phil. On the season overview page, it is listed thus: Bernard Rands, chains like the sea. Then, on the specific concert page, it is listed in all caps, as we see above. What is up with the capitalization? Is it because it’s just a fragment of a Dylan Thomas line? People need to calm it down because inevitably it is not going to get listed right in one context or another, or it’s not going to fit into the design scheme of the presenting organization, or it’s going to look stupid in print. I know nothing about this Rands piece, for all I know, it’s the most genius thing since Caller ID, but I’m just worried that he gets his title printed in a way that is pleasing unto him.
The Phil is doing something slightly better with their website, too, even though the design scheme and copy still resembles a page of instructions for a suppository (“* Insert suppository (round end first) into the back passage * Wash hands”; “It is a season to remember. The kind for which Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic are so justly renowned. A season like no other. And you’re invited.”) All kidding aside, pages like this are really, really good, with embedded wideo and more information than you’d need about the concert.
Anyway, I think what the Tommasini article is skirting around is that everybody is really excited for Alan Gilbert to come up in here and kick some ass vis Ã vis programming. It’s sort of an Obama-level Expectation, and while I’m sure it’s not going to please everybody, I’m totally excited.