Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Good News for the Philadelphia Orchestra?

We're always eager for good news about the Philadelphia Orchestra. With finances a severe challenge and community support below where it should be, the orchestra needs it. And so the headline for a New Yorker blog made my heart sing: "Good News for the Philadelphia Orchestra."

Good News for the Philadelphia Orchestra?

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We're always eager for good news about the Philadelphia Orchestra. With finances a severe challenge and community support below where it should be, the orchestra needs it. And so the headline for a New Yorker blog made my heart sing: "Good News for the Philadelphia Orchestra."

What is the good news?

It would seem to be the "confidence and relief" with which the orchestra's president and music director conversed at a press conference before the orchestra's recent Carnegie Hall concert. The writer is also impressed with the orchestra's playing. Beyond that, it turns out, there's no news.

The New Yorker has noticed that the Philadelphia Orchestra is a great ensemble - "...my god, what an orchestra it is..." But that's never been in dispute. During the entire bankruptcy and the years before and since, the quality of the music-making has been uniformly praised. The problem: the organization that exists to support the orchestra has been, says the orchestra's chairman, "undercapitalized."

That continues to be the case. You have to hope that we haven't gone down the road of putting the salvation of the Philadelphia Orchestra on the shoulders of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. No music director can save an orchestra. If he can stimulate ticket sales and donations, that's all to the good. But his core job is music. He can't be successful if the orchestra's entire operation - board and staff - isn't delivering at an extremely high level and having success raising an enormous amount of money - and quickly. The Philadelphia Orchestra, the magazine notes, isn't out of the woods yet. No one can argue with that.

As for the prospect of good news, we're all ears.

Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

Reach Peter at pdobrin@phillynews.com.

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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