Is there nothing to say?

MIANo, it’s not a header teaser, it’s a question I asked myself this morning when I went to check the date and subject of the last post on my own website. Hmm, I seem to have gone MIA for 9 months.

Is it that I have had nothing to say which, in my opinion, has been worth making commentary about over this period of apparent inactivity? Actually, there have been many things that I felt were worth discussing but, increasingly, I question whether engaged debate has merit any longer in the toxic, clickbate, culture that is now all pervasive.  Social Media. Hmm?

Notwithstanding, I have settled on four words that encapsulate issues I might have engaged with before going MIA:

Indifference.

In which I would discuss my increasing and disheartening concerns about the vicissitudes of programming by orchestras in Australia (and elsewhere) as we move toward 2020. But what would be the point when imaginative concert season programming by our state-based professional orchestras is, for all intent and purpose, inert.

I could, moreover, also interrogate why we continue to import overseas artists and conductors when so few Australians are being used, let alone the paucity of works by Australian composers being performed as the backbone of the aforementioned programming efforts (or lack thereof). But who would care; or probably even notice, that we have major under-employment (or more accurately – unemployment) of brilliant Australian musicians across the country whose talents languish for want of any basic recognition by those who are the insightful gatekeepers of orchestral programming?

Ennui.

I love this word.

Do you think it would be possible that we could perform an entire season of music without resorting to Beethoven (I don’t care what birthday he is celebrating in 2020) Brahms, Tchaikovsky or, yet again, plonk through another uninspiring Scheherazade, Carmina Burana, Mahler 1 or 5, Grieg piano concerto in A minor ….and the list goes on. The answer is indisputably ‘no’ as our need to hear these tired old warhorses year in and year out has become as irrational as the concept that orchestras will die a painful and excrutiating death should we fail to dust them off yet one more time.

Reality check – performing the same tired repertoire will kill orchestras as assuredly as Beethoven 9 will open (or close) many concert seasons of large, professional, symphony orchestras this year.

Dreary.

That’s it, I have decided that orchestras are so dreary I’d rather investigate what all the fuss is over some English pop singer called Billie Eilish. At least she has an interesting name even if her publicity photos look like she just woke up from a bad night sleep.

Or perhaps, I might read Steve Lukather’s biography, “The Gospel According to Luke” (the guitarist in the seminal LA band, TOTO) and reminisce about the days when recording sessions were about playing and creating music as opposed to today’s current crop of laptop wielding ‘producers’ fiddling with their virtual knobs who, collectively, couldn’t play a C major scale over one octave let alone asking whether the playing of a a ‘real’ instrument was woke and therefore an acceptable activity.

Or, I could point orchestral management and artistic programmers in the direction of reading about creative strategy and the business of design by leading Arts thinkers including Douglas Davis. Who’s he? “O never mind, I’m busy trying to decide which Tchaikovsky symphony we can play next week.”

Indolence.

Yep, that’s the way to go. I think I’ll just go and have a lie down and contemplate designing an orchestra concert program that brings together the work of the forgotten, brilliant, Bulgarian composer, Pancho Vladigerov; the aforementioned Ms. Eilish in a mash-up orchesta arrangement over any tune made famous by Judy Garland (or Audra Mcdonald for that matter) and culminating in an exciting premiere of a new Australian orchestra piece.

Can’t be that hard – should have it done by teatime – and even I might even go and see that.

More soon,
Kevin

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