Monday, October 19, 2009

Points to ponder

The Boston Globe's Jeremy Eichler revisits the recent debuts of two new music directors, Alan Gilbert at the New York Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who could represent "compelling models for coaxing the traditional symphony orchestra - essentially a creation of the 19th century - into the future."

Successful 21st-century orchestras must "resist the temptation to cocoon themselves in the narcotic sublimity of their own sound. The fear is always that concert halls in America are becoming citadels isolated from the modern-day intellectual and artistic life of the society at large," Eichler writes:

(Eichler also might have noted the initiatives of an older-school maestro, Riccardo Muti, to nudge the Chicago Symphony into this century with the appointments of Mason Bates and Anna Clyne as resident composers and the launching of several projects aimed at audiences rarely seen in symphony halls.)

How the futures of orchestras and other "high art" institutions will differ from their pasts should be essential points to ponder for the Richmond Symphony committee that will be selecting a new music director around the first of the year, and for the folks in charge of Richmond CenterStage, a venue that has been derided by its critics as a citadel of art forms oblivious to contemporary culture.