The New Season for American Symphony Orchestras by Curtis Rittenhouse

By on November 10, 2012

The word across the Country this fall has been generally good for those who love good classical music well-played. I had a chance to see Alan Gilbert with the New York Philharmonic and the young Russian tyro Daniil Trifonov doing an electric Prokofiev Three in an all Russian concert, that included longtime concertmaster Glenn Dicterow in a signature piece Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Gilbert in his fourth year as music director seems completely at home in front of this orchestra, relaxed, playful, savoring the experience and totally in command. It helps that New York audiences seem to love their hometown man.

Word is that Nezet-Seguin’s debut concert at Carnegie Hall with the Philadelphia Orchestra where he is now Music Director was a thrilling triumph. I was not there but again deduce that it means a lot when a conductor loves his work in front of an orchestra as much as this man does. I look forward to seeing him now at home, though he seems to be in demand all over.

I’m sorry to read of the struggles of the Indianapolis Symphony because they also have a fine music director in Krzysztof Urbanski. He was a great success at the Hollywood Bowl this summer and deserves more exposure.

I did have the chance to see Robin Ticciati and pianist Lars Vogt at Disney Hall last month. It remains a remarkable acoustical facility. You can hear everything going on everywhere, even pins dropping in the second terrace. Ticciati gave us Sibelius with some rounded edges. Vogt gave us a German Romantic version of Rachmaninoff. But there was the bonus of some rarely heard Liadov, the master miniaturist. Every one of his compositions is a little polished gem.

Speaking of the LA Phils, I know I speak for the hometown crowd when I say that it would be appreciated if Gustavo Dudamel was doing more recording with his orchestra there. The Simon Bolivar Orchestra is magical, but the Philharmonic that Salonen left Gustavo is not exactly chopped liver.  There seem to be a number of exits and entrances from key orchestra members. Do they need more attention from their popular super-star leader?

Riccardo Muti has returned in Chicago after an illness. Boston is searching for a successor to James Levine. MTT has become an institution in the City by the Bay. Detroit has survived. Pittsburgh under Honeck thrives. The question remains can the American Symphony Orchestra survive the realities of a belt-tightening twenty-first century economy? Only, it seems if corporate sponsors come to their rescue, and sponsors who can do this are a dwindling number. We will keep our fingers crossed: One less new football stadium and one more great American orchestra in the black.

Curtis Rittenhouse

About Tom Godfrey

2 comments on “The New Season for American Symphony Orchestras by Curtis Rittenhouse

  1. Bernard Dion on said:

    The greatest disseminator of pop music is the radio; even in the era of iTunes and other internet-based broadcasting. The classical Music world should take this as a lesson.
    Compare the number of pop music radio stations to the number of classical music stations. It is pathetic.
    The San Francisco Bay area’s 6 million people have ONE station only ! And with broadcasting power so pathetically low, it is impossible to listen to it over the airwaves, the static being so prevalent.
    If we can ever increase mainstream media that are classically oriented, maybe the american symphony orchestra will not be so chronically threatened.

    • TGodfrey on said:

      It is pathetic but it may reflect the number of classical music listeners. and their buying propensity. It may also have to do with classical music’s reluctance to cultivate a new audience. The majority of new classical pieces come and go after one hearing. No one records them. Concert-goers usually tolerate them. That is not true of pop music. There is new stuff coming all the time that gets heavily promoted and soon becomes ‘classic’. The length of pop pieces helps. Over in a couple of minutes. Classical music is waiting for whatever the equivalent of the Beatles will be. My fear is that it will be a long wait. Brahms sleeps soundly tonight. CR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


HTML tags are not allowed.