Notes Toward Reinventing the American Orchestra

Flexible programming, broader racial representation and welcoming spaces would go a long way in recovering from pandemic closures.

By Anthony Tommasini

”Now is the moment for orchestras to think big and take chances — yes, even as many players have agreed to salary reductions and administrators are coping with crushing deficits. Conceptually it’s not so hard. Approaching programming with exciting new ideas; fostering music by living composers; finding looser ways to organize a season; educating audiences both in the halls and in communities — all have been kicked around for decades.

It starts with creative programming, which isn’t just important; it’s everything. I’ve long argued that American orchestras think too much about how they play, and not enough about what they play and why they’re playing it. Programming an orchestra season is usually presented as a balancing act between maintaining the standard repertory while fostering contemporary music. But this makes it seem like old and new music exist in separate realms. Music is music; old and new music should be part of an integrated approach.”

Source: The New York Times