Clive Gillinson’s new season at Carnegie Hall is built around an anniversary. With considerable imagination, he has arranged to commission 125 new works of music to mark the date. That’s a lot of work for a lot of composers in 2016. Much to be commended.
But beyond the razzle-dazzle, what the numbers betray is a fatal lack of imagination. What kind of anniversary is 125? It smacks of clutching at numbers, any number, no matter how insignificant, to grab a shred of public attention before the lights go out.
Music is desperately dependent on anniversaries. We promote jubilees, centenaries, 150ths, 250ths, to highlight past glories and make them relevant to our own times. We cannot afford to cheapen the anniversary concept. Carnegie’s 125th is a step towards devaluing the numbers game.