NY Phil plays golf at dawn

NY Phil plays golf at dawn


norman lebrecht

August 04, 2018

Golf? And that’s supposed to be 2018 cool?


  • Henry Rosen says:

    Dear Mr Lebrecht. What on earth has golf done to offend you now? Just because it’s something you obviously know NOTHING about doesn’t mean it’s terrible. Golf is a wonderful sport, played in very beautiful places and teaches people how to be respectful of each other and is the most honest and self regulatory sport there is. And actually, have a look at the new generation of professional golfers, Spieth, McIlroy, Fowler and Beef..maybe classical musicians could learn from the way they are and interact with a new generation of golfers.
    Come on. Why has Saturday morning been so bad to attack golf?

    • Henry Rosen says:

      Also Norm, why a photo of Trump..are we really going down that road..what next? A photo of some terrible Nazi when talking about Wagner? Really, have some nice coffee, a stroll, and a slice of Victoria sponge to calm you down.

    • V.Lind says:

      Very cool. Nice looking course, with the mountains in the background.

      Disapprove of carts, and whatever club was used in the first shown shot.

      There are cooler players coming up behind the ones you mentioned — Fleetwood, Oleson, Rahm. Spieth was born square and Rory Mac born old. But they can still produce some shots…

    • Brian says:

      Agreed, golf is mostly a middle class game played on ordinary municipal type courses far removed from Trump’s resort kitsch. I walk the course near me, and have as much fun watching the deer, fox, birds and other creatures as I do playing the game. $20 for several hours of peaceful exercise, there are many worse ways for an old man to spend his time and money.

      • Sue says:

        It sounds absolutely splendid. Enjoy. I have friends who are golfers and, without exception, they are fitter and healthier than I am.

  • anon says:

    It is if you’re black and young, it is not if you’re white and old and has a caddie and ride in a cart and has one mulligan after another and don’t keep count and wear colorful pants that represent the only color in their all-white golf clubs.

    I was more offended by David Robertson conducting McGill’s clarinet solo in Bolero. There is nothing for a conductor to do in Bolero except to start the piece.

    I was more concerned that a black principal clarinet was getting paid less than the principal oboe.

    • Bruce says:

      Actually when we played Bolero last season, that’s what the conductor did. He gave the tempo, conducted for awhile, then stood there for a minute, and then (after 2 or 3 solos, once the piece was properly underway) left the stage. He came back at the end to give the cutoff, lead the bows, and to single out the solo players. It was fun 🙂

  • Steve says:

    The only thing that is not cool is these outdoor concerts and.. oh dear, the ‘Bolero’…

  • The View from America says:


  • Nelson says:

    I suppose if they had taken up cricket that would pass muster for you? From your disdain I wondered if they had combined golf with a trip to a gun firing range.

    Just because that overbearing & overweight ochre ogre finds golf to his taste doesn’t make it an odious pastime for the rest of “us”.

  • Bruce says:

    Nobody interested in doing something “cool” would have anything to do with classical music. (Especially in 2018 – my god)

    What would you prefer him to do that would be “cool,” Norman? Just wondering, since golf is clearly not good enough.

  • Cubs Fan says:

    1. Golf is a great way to spend a couple of hours, especially in a place like Vail. Obama played it regularly, and it probably “cool” then. Now that Trump, who owns many golf courses is in office, it’s not.
    2. In general outdoor venues are poor places for a concert. If the music has to be amplified, why not just stay home and listen? The weather is unpredictable. Vail’s Ford Hall (named for another golfing President) has acoustics that are acceptable. It’s not nearly as good as Walk Hall in the Grand Tetons, but it sounds better than Royal Albert Hall. The worse thing about it is the patrons bring drinks in with ice cubes that constantly rattle during music.
    3. What’s wrong with Bolero? It’s a crowd pleaser that the Vail audiences enjoy. Much more so than last year’s Mahler 7th.
    4. You want Kitsch? Go see Vail: it’s like Disneyland. Some developer’s idea of what a 19th c European village built in the Colorado Rockies would look like. Cute, but kitschy as can be. And affordable, compared to Aspen or Salzburg.

    • professor says:

      Golf definitely wasn’t cool when Obama did it. His supporters might have ignored it a bit, but the media was ruthless about it. Also about his “Dad Jeans”.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Reductio ad Trumpum is the new Reductio ad Hitlerum.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    I hope N.L. realizes that the much-shared photo of Trump walking with Queen Elizabeth, while she caddies his golf clubs for him, is photo-shopped “fake news.”

  • Abbie Conant says:

    The video is a political statement, a black man in a top orchestra playing golf in a country with a racially informed class system, and an arts world funded by and for wealthy whites. And all in a resort for the wealthy. Vail is 94% white. Blacks represent less one third of one percent of the population (0.29%.) Fraudulent facades. Screaming ironies.

  • william osborne says:

    Vail is a resort that caters to the wealthy. Only 1 out of every 300 residents is black (0.29%.) The ironies in this video might say more about classical music than we want to know.

    • Bruce says:

      In other words, it’s a completely typical resort town with a completely typical resort-town population, and the video lays bare ironies that we are all already aware of.

    • Cubs Fan says:

      Most all of these resorts cater to the wealthy – they need to pay the bills after all. The minority population is irrelevant and other than Asians, minorities are scarce in most all of these festivals. Blossom and Tanglewood aren’t that much better. Of all the music festivals in the western US, Vail is more affordable and far less snobby than most of the others. They have plenty of variety – Dallas, Philadelphia, and New York. It’s easier to get to than Aspen, Bear Valley, Grand Tetons or Sun Valley and much nicer weather than Round Top. And the sound is not electronically “enhanced”.

    • william osborne says:

      In response to both of the above, yes we are aware that in the USA the funding system by the wealthy for the arts situates classical music as a sort of cultural country club for the rich. This is the basis for the spa/resort summer festival culture which several of America’s top orchestras have. And a notable contrast from publicly funded European orchestras which rarely have summer resort homes removed from their home cities. In the EU, classical music often even goes into a higher gear during the summer months making the cities even more interesting — at least until the August vacation season. The Met follows another option and simply doesn’t perform from May to October. And most of our better orchestras don’t even have full seasons, often running for only 9 months.

      This is also a result of the poor quality of life in American cities, which becomes especially exacerbated during the summer months — a problem rarely found in other developed countries which do not have such massive urban problems. Top American orchestras thus follow their wealthy, white clientele, whose members abandon their decimated cities during the summer and leave them to the minorities occupying their massive ghettos. It’s a peculiar kind of cultural white flight not found in any other country.

      For those who can see behind the facade, the video is thus riddled with ironies. And of course, in the truthful world of Trumpistan, those ironies will be dutifully denied.

      • Nardo says:

        Poor quality of life in the American cities? Please give us a list and examples of the inferior quality of life, along with perhaps your definition of what it means to have a poor quality of life.

    • anon says:

      Hear, hear, what is the New York philharmonic doing in Vail, Colorado, instead of the city parks of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens?

      Oh sure, they do one free parks concert per year. The exception proves the point:

      It goes to Vail more often then it goes uptown to Harlem.

      It prefers the heights of Vail to Washington Heights. (Has it ever performed in its 125 year history in Washington Heights?)

      Has McGill ever played the municipal golf courses of New York City?

      The great social summer cooling spot for New Yorkers are the monumental public pools.

      I challenge Deborah Borda, the mother of El Sistema in LA and the US, to program summer programs in the municipal pools filled with brown kids.

      • william osborne says:

        And let McGill conduct and talk to the kids. He could also play and conduct something like the Copland Clarinet Concerto. Ah, the ideas that begin to flow…

      • gus says:

        Try playing in NYC outdoors in the summer heat! In Vail it’s lovely and cool and dry – no wonder they have a music festival. the acoustics are ok for outdoors.
        In the United States there is a very long tradition in classical music, going back 100 years (starting with Chautauqua, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Marlboro and so many others etc) of going out of the cities in the summer and enjoying music in the countryside. It can be the perfect environment for many works and actually brings the music closer to these audiences, who are not specialists.

  • Gus says:

    The Halle orchestra included Bolero in their touring season and remarkably Mark Elder had never conducted it before. His take on it was that the snare drum should be very quiet and not dominate the early part. Only after the solos had played was the rat a tat tat allowed to come to the fore. The whole piece was fantastic. Well done Mark Elder!

  • professor says:

    Defenses of golf, by the fascist fat white male commenters, prove NL’s point here.

    • V.Lind says:

      I’m not fascist, fat or male — I am white.

      Nothing cooler, or more exciting than the Ryder Cup, except maybe a bracing round at the Open when the haar is in.

      You probably have an American view of golf, which is usually very uncool — country clubs far from the city, expensive, cart-driven, ill-dressed, the Republican party at play. But to go by the much cooler European Tour and by experience in the UK, golf is much more laid-back. Courses are at the end of the road — even St. Andrews. (Which anybody can walk — try that in the US). People from all strata. Better dressed — if only because usually played in tougher weather. And MUCH more interesting courses.

      Read some John Betjeman, and some P.G. Wodehouse.

      • Cubs Fan says:

        The arrogance and stupidity of your statement is breathtaking. The “American” view? I’ve played golf all over. Yes, some courses are outside the cities, and for good reason; who could afford the real estate in New York or San Francisco? Yet there are plenty of cities where the courses are right in the city limits. Just played LA and Phoenix. Expensive? Depends. Torrey Pines sure was, LA not so much, Phoenix and Scottsdale a bargain. Cart-driven? Yes and no. You try lugging the bag around 18 holes in 90-100 degree heat! But sometimes (Flagstaff) a nice walk is fine. Don’t know what you mean by ill-dressed. Some courses have dress codes, some not – in the US we’re very egalitarian. Republican? Of course you’d have to throw that stupid and wrong idea out. I’ve met just as many Democrats as Republicans on courses all over the west.I filled out a foursome in Durango with three communists last year! Obama and Clinton both golf, by the way. Interesting courses? Don’t know about that, but there are some damned fine, tricky and interesting ones in California, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming…heck, everywhere. Sports have different meaning and structure in different countries. American rodeo is great fun. I went to a “rodeo” in England down by Kent a couple of years ago. That’s not rodeo, at least for me. Of course, the organizers I talked to thought American rodeo is barbaric. I guess we’re just less civilized over here, in football, rodeo and golf.

        • V.Lind says:

          Maybe, but you’re a Cubs fan and baseball is VERY civilised! And the Cubs are uber-cool and have one of the best stadia.

          Of course there are some wonderful courses in the US, and I will take your point about heat and carts. What I object to most of all in US golf is that in some courses carts are COMPULSORY. That to me is utterly objectionable in that it removes one of the essentials of the game — walking — even as an option, just to make money on the cart rentals. I have no objection to older or semi-disabled golfers using carts, and your point about the heat is well taken, but it should never e forbidden for a golfer to walk. Hey, how could a good walk be spoiled otherwise?

          My remarks on US golf should be restricted to the PGA Tour, an utterly objectionable crew guilty of everything I (wrongly) attributed to US golf in general. The PGA Tour, which does not believe in penalising the glacially slow play it pays lip service to abhorring, is pretty ill-dressed and is almost to a man Republican. (The Ryder Cup team initially declined to accept an invitation to the Clinton White House — Tom Watson’s first team, and he had to bully them into going. As it was I believe they wore offensive masks).

    • Sue says:

      You see, that’s all the left has got – name-calling and abuse. The cupboard is otherwise bare, the emperor sans clothing. Keep reading “The Guardian” where you’ll get more abuse, name-calling and censorship. That ought to make you feel right at home. Hope you can put some cash into their (inevitable) begging bowl.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:


    “Old Persons Guide to the Orchestra”

  • AnonWC1 says:

    To you SL readers, golf is widely played on a day off whilst on tour, (Europe, Far East or America) by the golfing fraternity of the big London orchestras! It’s the best kept secret -until now.

  • Kurt Muroki says:

    I relate golf and music all the time. It’s the perfect analogy for shifting, the same type of concentration and focus, etc. golf and music really do relate in so many ways. Musicians I love all play golf… I should say that many of the best musicians in the world play golf.

  • hophmi says:

    I think maybe Norman is trying to say that if the Philharmonic is trying to cultivate an audience of moneyed old white people, a golf video about the Philharmonic’s residency at Vail with a sound track of Bolero, the epitome of an audience-pleasing safe score, is not a bad way to do it, even if the video is about Anthony McGill, who is terrific, but didn’t take kindly to Norman’s snarkiness, and I can understand that. I liked the video, but I can see why Norman did not.

  • Annika Golfika says:

    In the US, golf is also traditionally a way of professional networking. Quite a few American orchestral players are avid golfers. Lebrecht, you’re much closer Scotland than we. Go learn something about golf.