Failing orchestra? Change the name

Failing orchestra? Change the name


norman lebrecht

May 20, 2022

The Stamford Symphony has been serving the people of Connecticut harmoniously since 1919.

But it never got much heard of beyond county lines under recent music directors Roger Nierenberg (1980-2004) and Eckart Preu (2005-2017).

The new guy, Michael Stern, wants to change that.

As of today the symphony will be known as Orchestra Lumos.

Lumos? Sounds Greek to me.


  • V.Lind says:

    Probably most famous from Harry Potter. Is he going for the ultra-youth demographic? Good luck with that!

    Though I daresay the first Harry Potter opera is in the works. If it’s not, it probably should be.

    • MWnyc says:

      Who in the opera world has the money it would cost to buy rights to anything in the Harry Potter franchise?

  • guest says:

    lumen is Latin for light, and limos is Greek for mud. Take your pick!

  • Amos says:

    New guy from 2019 with a world famous father/violinist and a long list of appointments.

  • DownvoteKing says:

    What good does it do to trash on a small town orchestra in an underserved artistic community? Solid journalism, A+ stuff.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    He did great things in KC and he has the Blue Blood for classical music so lots of connections.

    Stamford, if I am not mistaken, is a wealthy collar community of NYC. With all the talent in NYC, I’m sure that the orchestra could have a much higher profile with a new brand and a hunger to compete with St Lukes, Orpheus, and Mostly Mozart.

    I think it’s a brilliant move for him as he can get NYC exposure if not beyond.

    • Maria says:

      What, as Harry Potter and Lumos?

    • drummerman says:

      Stamford has wealthy folks but it’s not all wealthy. I’ve worked in the NYC/suburban NY music business for 40 years. No, the folks in NYC will not travel to Stamford for a concert and I can’t imagine NYC critics reviewing their concerts.

    • SVM says:

      Many of the greatest orchestras are named after the local area or even the building in which they are based, despite recruiting many of their players from farther afield and going on tours. The onus is on the orchestra and its director to “put it on the map”.

      I fail to see how changing a name of over a century’s standing and in the process removing the locality therefrom is likely to achieve anything other than souring relations with existing patrons and audiences, unless the orchestra is no longer active in the area in any guise. Or is the idea of the name change that the director wants to disguise the so-called ‘provincial’ nature of the orchestra when applying for directorships at other orchestras (which would imply that the director is not very confident in the prospects for his current orchestra)? If so, “Lumos” is a dreadful choice of name, in that it makes it sound like one of the countless less-than-one-year-old orchestras set up by enterprising young conductors and engaging students, recent graduates, and friends of the conductor for little or no fee (not a criticism of such orchestras — when I was younger, I used to play for several such orchestras myself, and was glad to do so…), rather than a 103-year-old orchestra that has had multiple directors serving for over a decade.

    • Jules says:

      This isn’t a new appointment. Stern’s had the job since 2019.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Why not the Giants? . . He already has the jersey.

  • Matt says:

    Why are you trying to constantly judge and tear down the efforts of smaller orchestras? Get with it please, Norman. It’s 2022. A name change isn’t a big deal.

  • freddynyc says:

    Too bad dad isn’t around to help bolster his career……

  • Herr Forkenspoon says:

    Stange headline: Failing orchestra. How is it failing? Does Norman write columns or only tidbits?

  • James Scott says:

    Stamford is a relatively well-off community that is within commuting distance of NYC. The players are mostly NY freelance players who work with the various NYC orchestras like St. Luke’s, Orpheus, etc. as well as Broadway shows. There are several other nearby orchestras serving similar communities. Some very good sounding groups because of the access to fine, working musicians. Fund-raising is always tough for these kinds of groups, however, because of the competition for donors with similar orchestras nearby, and the possibility that many arts-minded local residents will put their money into the larger NYC institutions. People do enjoy having concerts close to home, but there’s really only an appetite for a handful of concerts each year. The musicians make a living by putting together a few different similar situations that add up to a decent wage when combined. I wouldn’t characterize it as a “failing” situation – it is doing exactly what it was designed for, and has been able to do so for many years.

  • Sar Peladan says:

    Who says it was failing? It is a local orchestra, but uses top-notch free-lance musicians from New York City and environs. It has maintained its place all along. That he wants to market it in a new way is his project.

  • MacroV says:

    In what way is it failing? Not financially, from what I can tell. It’s a re-branding exercise, whose wisdom remains to be seen.