Good news from the graveyard shift.
Last August we reported that Sacramento had lost both its orchestra and opera company, leaving the state capital of California dry of classical music.
Now, a team from the Detroit Symphony has found a way to bring them back.
It’s hard not to have a good feeling about this (Mahler via Detroit to the rescue!). Not quite a genuine sigh of relief yet, but what a terrific effort. Bravo to the interim appointees who put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Seems ironic that a team from bankrupt Detroit is resurrecting the Sacramento orchestra.
It’s really the Walking Dead because Sacramento has already been resurrected once in the 1980s.
The UK has one full time orchestra for every 3.2 million people. At that rate, California would have 12 fulltime orchestras. Germany has one fulltime orchestra for every 616,000 people. At that rate California would have 62 fulltime orchestras. If California had the same number of opera houses per capita as Germany it would have 38. In reality, California has 2 full time orchestras, one half time opera in San Francisco, and a smattering of opera in performed piecemeal in LA and other cities.
A person from the DSO is also managing the New Mexico Philharmonic after its predecessor, the New Mexico Symphony folded. The NMP now has a tiny budget for a metro area of almost 1 million people.
Given the problems the DSO has had, its low budget for an orchestra of a major industrial city, and that the Detroit is in the process of bulldozing 40 square miles of abandoned buildings due to economic and social neglect, the DSO has become the perfect arts management training ground for American classical music culture. They should call themselves “Wasteland Arts Management.” Their motto could be, “We”ll make your dead orchestra walk again…or at least crawl.”
In short, no amount of clever Wasteland Management will make up for the lack of public funding for the arts.
It is incredibly condescending to state that there “should” be an orchestra for any given number of people. What about demographics/Ethnographics/habits/cultural differences?
Can you imagine the chinese stating there should be a given number of Pipa players per capita around the world? What makes ‘classical music’ so inherently ‘better’ than chinese music, andean music, indian music, and other musical genres that are in fact much more ancient than ‘classical’? Its patronizing, and that’s why people are not buying it.
Personally, I dont care if Sacramento has 20 million people, there’s no ‘NEED’ for an orchestra. There’s a need for the Arts, and these can be (and I am sure they are) promoted through a pallete of mediums, not exclusively classical music.
It’s already been pointed out that recently bankrupt “Detroit” symphony now has ‘consultants’ (do they even know the meaning of the word??) that will save these orchestras. It sounds more like a way for a group of people to make their friends make some money rather than “promote’ the arts.
Your argument would be fine if California (and the USA) had some form of intelligent art to replace classical music, but it doesn’t. As it is, the attitude of American exceptionalism that claims it doesn’t need a representation of classical music more-or-less in line with international standards is what is arrogant, close-minded, and condescending. I hate to have to tell you that American’s ain’t that unique and special…
Even American forms such as jazz have been better supported in Europe for decades. Germany for example has 5 full time, state radio big bands. The USA has zero. There is not a single full time big band left in the country. (There are some military big bands, but they are soldiers first and musicians second.) Now tell us that jazz isn’t an American art form, and that we have no “NEED” for it…
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