Monday, March 14, 2011

“Live” Music

Alex Ross makes an interesting observation in Listen to This about the decline in the amount of music in orchestral repertoire which was composed by people still alive at the time they were played. Here’s how the numbers stack up for our local orchestras:


A bit dispiriting to see our “flagship” orchestras trailing the pack on this indicator.


Angel Trumpet said...

The state orchestras are regularly accused of being museum or heritage art forms. In the face of stats like these it's more of a wonder the sector rejects the criticism and pleads innocence.

To be fair to musuems, most do purchase or loan new artworks to display for their exhibitions, which would make orchestras perhaps more like historical archives? Given most of the repertoire is not Australian, there can also be little justification for the tag heritage in an Australian context.

Perhaps European heritage historical archives??

The Weatherman said...

It's clearly a valid criticism, but the question is, who is driving this strategy? Do audiences demand this, so the orchestras provide it? Or is it because the orchestras provide this repertoire, they generate the sort of audience that will demand more of it.

I'm reminded of the reports of Michael Kieran Harvey drawing boos at the Sydney Opera House for his improvisation efforts during Rhapsody in Blue:

Sydney Symphony - Boos for Gershwin?

That shows a really serious devotion to established repertoire. If orchestras have to cater for this, it's little wonder they choose the music they do.

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