If Atlanta fails, bang goes the southeast USA
September 10, 2014 by norman lebrecht
We’ve received these sobering thoughts from a young player who was about to audition for the ASO. He has allowed us to publish his name.
I’m a twenty-eight years old second generation double bassist, playing in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for a season; my father has been playing in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra as a bassist for I think about 40 years now.
I wanted to write to you to about an aspect of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra situation that I feel is being left out of the general social media foray. Most of the ‘social media’ arguments on the side of the Atlanta Symphony Musicians have been focused on how the current lockout will affect the musicians and arts culture in Atlanta. I’m not writing about what’s already been said…<
Simply put the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is THE orchestral ensemble for the entire southeastern United States. Very recently I was hoping to audition for the ASO’s principal double bass opening. While looking at the map to get to Atlanta while this situation was in its fermentation stage I thought to myself, ‘Holy shit, if Atlanta goes down the shitter that’s basically it for world class ochestral music in the entire southeast.’
As I’m sure you’re aware, the quality of an orchestra compared to its peers can be drawn from a multitude of different sources. One can take into account annual operating budget, the prestige of soloists and guest conductors brought in (which is directly related to budget size), size of various sections in the orchestra, size of the audience, etc. This statement obviously doesn’t work across the board but generally, the higher the budget of an ensemble the more the players are paid, the higher the talent an orchestra can recruit, ergo the higher the artistic quality of the ensemble. The previous statement is zero percent rocket science.
Up until this current point in history, the ASO has been to me the best ensemble in a lot of the aforementioned ‘orchestral quality rubrics’ in their part of the country (I only use the phrase ‘a lot of the aforementioned’ because I don’t have the exact comparative numbers in front of me). One would have to go to Dallas in the west, Cincinnati/Indianapolis/
I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers with other orchestras in the southeastern United States, or disparage those ensembles. But simply put I don’t know of another professional orchestra in that massive part of the country with the prestige and money behind it that the ASO has enjoyed in the past.
I understand the issues involved in trying to make people that are interested in classical music care about classical music. It’s also my passionate view that one hundred percent of humans, if not other animals, are capable of appreciating emotionally as well as intellectually benefiting from our art. It must be made clear that the loss of the Atlanta Symphony in it’s current form will not just rob the city of Atlanta, but the entre portion of America under which the ASO did or should have had influence.
I completely stand by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians when they say they are an incredibly important part of the arts in their city. But I think America needs to understand they are their flagship arts organization not just for the city of Atlanta or state Georgia, but an entire region of the country.
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