Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Sydney v. Melbourne Cringe

The Sydney v. Melbourne thing hit the arts scene this week with Limelight magazine making a comparison of the two cities on a number of artistic fronts, including classical music. In regard to the classical music comparison, they made the point that the Melbourne Symphony offers slightly more adventurous programing than the Sydney Symphony. Is it?

Looking just at the 2012 programs, it's clear that the MSO is doing quite a bit more, with their "live music" component (ie works composed by people who are still kicking) standing at 19% while the SSO sits at a lowly 12%.  This stat ranges from 21% in Adelaide to 8% in WA.

Another arguably more significant stat is the percentage of works by Australian composers - 10% in Melbourne, and a puny
6% in Sydney (the range is 12% in Tasmania to a mere 2% in WA).  You'd have thought that given the amount of tax dollars the many headed public is contributing to this that such low numbers wouldn't be tolerated.

Finally, the Repertoire Safety Index tells us that the MSO, with a score of 7.0, has a playlist far less loaded with warhorses and chartbusters than the SSO, with a score of 5.6.  The range around the country is 8.8 (although that's the ACO which is probably an unfair comparison, to Adelaide at 7.3 down to WASO at 5.3).

In summary, Sydney is doing considerably less than Melbourne on these measures, although neither is doing particularly well.

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