Tag Archives | New York Philharmonic

Kurt Masur and Pierre Boulez

Kurt_MasurAfter my diatribe the day before yesterday about the situation at ENO, I felt it was necessary to write something utterly positive. What could be positive about the passing of two great maestri you ask? Well what about reminiscences from long-serving and ex-orchestral musicians in the New York Philharmonic about both these illustrious conductors. Fortunately AFM’s Local 802 here in New York posts its magazine online. You can read the Reminiscenes article here.

But not only that, I would like to point out one paragraph in the article from long-serving double-bassist in the NYPhil., Orin O’Brien.  And I reprint it here for good measure:

“I would like to put in a word here for all orchestral musicians everywhere: it has been fashionable for music critics to write that “such-and-such an orchestra either likes or dislikes a conductor.” No attitude could be more wrongly portrayed. Every professional musician I have ever known has wished to collaborate with the kind of conductor exemplified by a Kleiber or a Bernstein, who allowed an orchestra to play its best. This means that each player, giving all that is possible to be his or her absolute best in every minute of a rehearsal or concert, is playing for the music, for the audience and for the conductor. I have never known any musician to want anything but to play beautifully, to serve the composer most of all. The miracle (which sometimes occurs at a rehearsal, not only at a concert) of a memorable flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon or horn solo, the delicate shimmer of a pianissimo cymbal, or a concertmaster’s tender arpeggio – those are precious, shared, ideal moments that form the character of an orchestra.”

You want Ms. O’Brien playing for you everyday if you conduct an orchestra!

More soon,


Jesse Rosen Keynote Address Scores 10-out-of-10

I think this is one of the finest keynote addresses I’ve heard in the orchestral music sector. An address at the League of American Orchestras’ 2015 Conference in Cleveland, Jesse Rosen, president and CEO outlines his ‘top-ten’ critical issues (acknowledged reference to David Letterman) as the future imperatives of American Symphony Orchestras.

Given the breadth of contextual 360-deg. understanding that Mr. Rosen exhibits, it is a pity that the Tier-A orchestra managements in the U.S. do not attend this component of the League’s annual conference; having their own private conference immediately proceeding this event. The pity is that much of what Mr. Rosen proposes with alacrity and abiding sense, is clearly falling on deaf ears with some of the ‘majors’.  How can you tell?  Just look at their websites for programmng in the coming year.  Conversely, look at the Tier-A orchestras that are clearly starting to sharpen their pencils in committing to true community engagement and re-invigorating their repertoire choices (i.e., NYPhil. stand-up and take a bow).  You can almost hear the life being breathed back into these institutions as they shrug off the accumulated dust of tired old war-horse programming in favor of more balanced, curated, and audience-centric choices of music from which to choose.

Moreover, it is fascinating that the greater buy-in to evolving orchestra practice seems to come from the lower-tier orchestras possessing less resources, less financial security but a more demonstrable and energised will to evoke change.  These orchestra are serious champions and they extend from Nebraska to Alabama and everywhere in between.

More soon,