Music classes at Plaza Music Center in Brooklyn

Critic: How Not to Reach New Audiences

What’s the best way to find new audiences for classical music? Not through music-education programs, according to a June 27 column by Anne Midgette, classical-music critic of the Washington Post. More

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Pipe Down!

It started out the same as any other concert by Utah’s Weber State University Symphony Orchestra. But music professor and orchestra conductor Michael A. Palumbo created a stir when he apparently halted a November 13 orchestra performance and asked a noisy audience member to leave the hall. According to spectator accounts More

Piano in San Juan Capistrano painted by Arturo Guevara

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California’s Pacific Symphony has been bringing the music to the people for many years. But over the last few months, the orchestra has been encouraging people to connect hands-on  More

Arts Advocates Violins

Young Arts Advocates

In an era of shrinking federal and state budgets, more and more arts supporters are stepping forward to make the case about the vital role the arts play in communities and in the lives of young people. This spring, members of the Florida Youth Orchestra traveled all night by bus to the state capital of Tallahassee to make sure legislators got their message. More

JoAnn Falletta helps introduce the Hawaii Symphony at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, June 13

Hawaiian Sunrise

The lingering effects of the economic downturn continue to take a toll on orchestras across the country. Enough, in fact, to forget that one of the first organizations to feel the heat was the Honolulu Symphony, which filed for bankruptcy in December 2010 More


Orchestra Boot Camp

Violins were dusted off. Tubas were taken out of the closet. Clarinets were re-assembled. And 53 amateur musicians gave their instruments—and chops—an intense workout at the Minnesota Orchestra Fantasy Camp, where they rehearsed alongside members of the Minnesota Orchestra for two days, September 15 and 16, culminating with a performance of Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances on the orchestra’s season sampler concert. More

Matt Haimovitz playing at OccupyWallStreet on October 16

Occupy Wall Street, Cello Edition

This past Saturday, cellist Matt Haimovitz headed down to Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, where the Occupy Wall Street protests against social and economic inequality have been underway since September 17. Once arriving there, he found someone to loan him a 5-gallon plastic bucket, pulled out his 300-year-old Venetian cello and beloved Peccatte bow, sat down on the bucket, and starting playing. More

Lady Justice

Poll: Why Don’t I Like This Music?

In a recent essay in New York Magazine, classical-music critic Justin Davidson went public with his struggle to like Philip Glass’s music. “Drugs work differently on different metabolisms, angels appear only to the elect, and I lack the gift of spinning Glassian tedium into bliss,” he wrote. More

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Verdi, the Holocaust, and the Indians of Minnesota

What happens when the Bemidji Symphony—a small community orchestra in northern Minnesota—performs Defiant Requiem, a multimedia adaptation of Verdi’s Requiem that incorporates the Holocaust? The chance for a broader dialogue with the local Native American community, for one thing. More

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The Networked Orchestra

Experts run your marketing department. A CFO with post-graduate degrees handles your money. And your musicians are at the apogee of artistry. But when it comes to your orchestra’s digital-media initiatives, who does the work? Until recently, it might have been the intern. But things are changing—fast—and what was once relegated to the sidelines or handled ad hoc is now a central means for connecting with audiences, communities, and the larger world. More

Giancarlo Guerrero leads the Nashville Symphony

58 Orchestras. 50 States. One Score.

We’ve all seen it: the new composition that is commissioned with great expectations, premiered with great fanfare, reviewed with great discernment—and then vanishes, seldom to be heard again. But over eighteen months between 2008 and 2010, one work—Joseph Schwantner’s Chasing Light…—was given more than 70 performances. More

Chelsea Tipton conducts the Philharmonic Orchestra of Gran Canaria in Las Palmas, Spain, with Sting (right) and members of Sting’s touring band, July 2011. Photo by Quique Curbelo

Sting’s Behind-the-Scenes Conductor

Rehearsing and conducting concerts is the central activity for an orchestra conductor, and one that doesn’t vary much, the world over. But Chelsea Tipton II, music director of the Symphony of Southeast Texas, has been spending his summer in an unusual role: rehearsing but rarely performing with a series of local orchestras during the Symphonicity tour of Europe by rock musician Sting. More

Members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's woodwind section. Photo by Mark Lyons

POV: Lessons from Cincinnati’s Contract Extension

Many people have been following the recent contract extension at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I consider to be some of the noteworthy aspects. I don’t wish to speak so much about the details of the agreement but rather on the process that led to an outcome that successfully addressed the goals of musicians, board, and management. At a time when many orchestras are experiencing strained labor relations, especially in the face of scarce resources, it’s important that we look at a successful outcome. More

Occupy the Arts

Poll: Elitism in the Arts?

Anthony Tommasini’s “Occupy the Arts, a Seat at a Time” in Sunday’s New York Times, has started heated discussions in some quarters about the issue of social equality as it relates to the arts. That article cited the many concerts in New York City and elsewhere in the U.S. that are offered either free or at very low cost, adding, “Classical music has struggled for a long time to fight the perception — an unfair perception — that it is elitist and inaccessible… More

Excerpt from The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 5 entry on "criticism," pages 36-50.

Where Are Tomorrow’s Music Critics?

Everyone has an opinion. And when it comes to arts criticism, there are now more and more media outlets where those opinions can be expressed. But amidst all the quick-hit reviews and snarky witticisms, how do we give young people the training and skills to approach the arts from a more considered, complex perspective? Rather than watch by the sidelines as writing about classical music falls into what he describes an “appalling state,” Stephen Rubin decided to take action. Rubin—president and publisher of Henry Holt & Co. and a former magazine and newspaper journalist who profiled many classical musicians—became benefactor of the Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism. More

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Trick or Tweet?

It’s a familiar request to hear at the beginning of a concert: “Please make sure turn off all cell phones during the performance.” However, as orchestras across the country seek to engage new—often younger—audiences, more and more are turning a 180 and encouraging audiences to turn on mobile devices and receive real-time program notes via text message or Twitter, and, if they so desire, respond with their own impressions. Feelings among the wider classical music community are mixed. More

Photo by Glenn Triest

Arts Champion

News about national debt and spending cuts may have taken most of the headlines coming out of Washington this past month, but the arts managed to grab a place at the table too. In July, the Obama administration named Sphinx Organization Founder and President Aaron Dworkin and Cleveland Orchestra Director of Education and Community Engagement Joan Katz Napoli among the fourteen “Champions of Change” More

World premiere at Augusta's Miller Theater of The Three Faces of Eve, 1957

Miller High Life

The Miller Theater in Augusta, Georgia has a storied history: since opening in 1940, it has featured first-run movies in a gleaming Art Moderne setting; legendary actors have trod its stage; the Oscar-winning film The Three Faces of Eve had its world premiere there in 1957; rock groups have raised a ruckus; and local theater, ballet, and opera troupes have performed. But as Augusta’s downtown succumbed to suburban flight and hard times, the Miller fell into disuse, and closed in the 1980s. Now the Miller may be poised for a comeback, thanks to a partnership between two local nonprofits: Symphony Orchestra Augusta and Augusta Landmarks. More

John Morris Russell high-5's a Cincinnati Pops fan outside Music Hall. Photo: Mark Lyons

Pops 2.0: Questions for John Morris Russell

If the term “pops” conjures up ebullience, energy, fizz, then John Morris Russell should fit in just fine as the new conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Russell is following the late Erich Kunzel, whose name and avuncular presence were synonymous with the Cincinnati Pops for decades. That left a large gap to fill, or big shoes to step into, or a major baton to carry—pick your metaphor—but Russell seems ready to handle the job with aplomb, a ready laugh, and the gift of gab. He’s no stranger to Cincinnati, More

Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot joins orchestra musicians in "Bolero"; greets young music lovers; on the podium. Photo credits: from left: Ben VanHouten; Mary Langholz; Ben VanHouten.

Seattle’s New Sound Garden: Questions for Ludovic Morlot

In his first few weeks as music director of the Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot: tossed out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game; conducted an opening-night concert at which he also slipped in among the strings to play the violin for Ravel’s Bolero; presided over a day of free music by richly diverse local groups; and led three world premieres, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony, inspired by local music icons Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Quincy Jones. Morlot has only been in the job a couple of months, and already he’s taking an only-in-Seattle tack that seems custom-tailored for the Emerald City. More