It's OK to program something that isn't perfect
Couldn't agree more! We need more variety in classical programming, that's for sure. And we also need to have orchestras that are willing to try new things. I think that management is often tasked with finding a huge crowd, forgetting that if you appeal to a core group of adventurous (but REGULAR) patrons, the "gamble" should pay off. However, I have to say that I have met my share of very "un"adventurous conductors - they really couldn't care less about anything new. To them, Mahler teeters on the edge. What to do with them, as they often make the programming decisions? Because like anything else, when you have a good advocate for a piece, it all falls into place, and the audience will have a fantastic time. I honestly think management gives the audience too little credit for being able to spot great music. But that gets me on another topic. Why must it necessarily be a "masterpiece" or a symphony with a proven track record? It's OK to program something that isn't perfect - very little music is after all! We seem to be thinking too much inside a narrower and narrower box.That comment was made by Stephen Evans about yesterday's post Reach is equally important in repertoire. The header image shows my LP set of exactly the kind of music Stephen is talking about; the main works are John Foulds' Pasquinade Symphonique No 1, Hubert Parry's Symphony No 3 (The English), and Havergal Brian's complete Symphonic Movements from The Tigers. That boxed set of masterly non-masterpieces featured in a 2009 post which explained that "I'm not going to start all that nonsense about rediscovered masterpieces. But if English music of this period floats your boat this is worth worth exploring".
In another comment Rob Collis says "I gave up going to the Proms (other than those in which I've sung) some years ago precisely because the repertoire is so sclerotic and frankly dull". Striking confirmation of the foolishness of narrowing repertoire choice in order to expand demographic reach is provided in a new article titled "Almost half of Opera Philly’s audience is under 35: Here’s how they did it". Explaining how Opera Philly did it, general director David Devan outlines their strategy of presenting adventurous and observes that "Customers want more variety".
To put David Devan's observation into perspective, Mahler's First Symphony - which is one of four Mahler symphonies programmed at the 2016 BBC Proms - has been played seven times in the last ten years at the Proms, and 2016 is the third consecutive year that symphony is being performed. This year also sees the sixth performance in seven years of Mahler's Fifth Symphony at the Proms, and the 2016 outing will be the fourth consecutive season that the symphony has been played. Please could BBC Radio 3 controller Alan Davey and Proms director David Pickard note that not only is it OK to program something that isn't perfect, it's also OK to program something that isn't Mahler.
With thanks to reader Jerry White for the heads up on the Philly Opera article. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.