U.S. Symphony Orchestras


Here's a link to a Wikipedia list of US symphony orchestras. What immediately struck me was how large a list it is. For instance, from my adobe in southeast Michigan I have access to four orchestras, including a major one, the Detroit SO. This may sound heretical, but are there too many symphonies? The poor economic health of many of the orchestras would support the over abundance argument. It's possible that a severe contraction in the number of orchestra could occur.

There was a "Gramaphone" article a few years back about the top twenty orchestras in the world. US orchestras showed very strong with seven institutions named. Anybody have any ideas about how to keep the best of these orchestras solvent and still performing?
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Showing 10 responses by rok2id

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The ultimate answer is to broaden the cusomer base. Make it more attractive to young people. Any endeavor, that does not attract succeeding generations, will die. Simple logic. These may help: Relax the dress code. Play more 'popular' classics. The stuff everyone will like. Overtures & light classics etc... Travel around the state or area to be seen by more people. I see where the New York Phil went to NORTH KOREA a few years ago. I wonder how many cities in this country would have liked to have had them come to town. Stop all the rehersals for EVERY concert. This saves money. The experience is the thing, not the artistic level of the performance. Every performance does not have to be perfect, esp when the main objective is to expose and gain new adherents. Play outside when possible. Children welcomed! Gotta figure out a way to get'em hooked. If not, soon everyone in the audience will have blue hair.

The best orch is down to europe and the U.S. 7 of 20 means they have twice as many good groups as we do.
BTW, a few examples of how to do it is, The 4th of July thingy yearly in D.C. and look at Andre Rieu and his orch. Thye probably make more money than all the 'best' orchs combined. And his performances are like a party. Just a thought.
"Some of us seek out music that is unknown and aren't motivated to go hear Beethoven's 5th for the eleventy-second time. "

We aren't trying to get you interested in classical music. You already are. I was speaking of Mozart, Rossini, Tchaikovsky ... the warhorses. And not every night. You won't get the result needed and not change anything at the same time. But you will have to drop 'down' to get the young. As an analogy, you wouldn't try to get people interested in jazz by starting them off with Ornette Coleman. Besides I don't know the answer, but the OP said there is a problem. So the current program ain't working. I don't live near an orch, so it's CDs for me, and almost all of them are by European Orchestras.
BTW, I actually prefer chamber to orchestral on Disc. And I do understand what you are saying. It could be that the symphony Orchestra's time has about run it's course. Maybe they can survive in large markets like NYC where there are enough people with the money and background to support it. It has happened to other genres before. This used to be a transplanted European nation. It is now almost completely American. And classical ain't native to America. One last thing. Since we now know that corporate America does not pay taxes, their 'support' of the arts is actually being done with Taxpayer money. Just a thought.
Just something to show the 'type' of thing I was talking about.

The Nutcracker shown back in DEC 2011 on PBS. It was sort of like a dance contest, a different ballet company every night. All performing the Nutcracker. I LOVED it. I have never had the slightest interest in Ballet, other than the music, but I was STUNNED at how much I enjoyed it. Two people explaining between acts and after the final, made the entire night. This is another example of how to get the public interested. Put it on TV with 'hosts' (that are well known to the public at large) to explain as the concert is going on. Between movements. BTW, a few years ago, the BOLSHOI even found the time and interest to come to my neck of woods. I didn't attend. After the PBS thingy, I can't wait for another chance. Still waiting for the top American stuff to show up.
The last two posts just confirm my fear that American symphony Orchestras are destined to become a Megalopolis phenomenon. Playing to the same crowd. They will fade from the conscious of the other 99%. Professional sports used to be the same in this country, all concentrated in the Northeast, now they are everywhere and trying to gain footholds abroad. When I was in the Army the guys that advised American busniess on being better managers, would also come and teach Army Officers. The thing I most remember was this: The First Step In Problem Solving, Is To STATE the problem. Being careful not to confuse the symptoms with the problem. It's a business, you are trying to SELL a product. Act like a business.
It's a British / European Publication??
"Its a tough battle, but hopefully good taste perseveres."

This attitude is part of the problem. Good taste? Music is music, none of it is better than any other. And to most people it reinforces the commonly held view that classical music is for snobs. Being a snob is frowned upon in the young world.
hahahah don't be difficult. You know exactly what I was saying. I am not saying Beethoven is no better than some guy in Togo beating on a drum. I was speaking of the differnt genres of music competing with classical music, or the entertainment dollar in this country. However, classical is not better than jazz or pop or r&b or country or bluegrass etc..... just different. As they all are from each other as well. Look up the definition of snob and I think you will agree you can love classical as I do and not be anything close to being a snob.