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Classical Music
Janelle Gelfand on the classical music scene

Janelle's pen has taken her to Japan, China, Carnegie Hall, Europe (twice), East and West Coasts, and Florida. In fact, Janelle was the first Enquirer reporter to report from Europe via e-mail -- in 1995.

Janelle began writing for the Cincinnati Enquirer as a stringer in 1991 while writing a Ph.D. dissertation in musicology at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She joined the Enquirer staff in 1993.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she graduated from Stanford University, Janelle has lived in Cincinnati for more than 30 years. In her free time, this pianist plays chamber music with her circle of musical friends in Cincinnati.

She covers the Cincinnati Symphony, May Festival and Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, chamber music ensembles, and as many recitals and events at CCM and NKU as possible.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reviving a tired concert format

Are orchestras still relevant? Or are they, like the poster below quoted, "Old, stuffy, for snobs, and (the Columbus Symphony) doesn't fit the image of a city moving forward. Leave it to Cincinnati and Cleveland as "old" cities holding on to dying institutions, and public funding of sport teams."

I believe orchestras are relevant, but all orchestras -- pops and classical -- need to start collecting ideas of how they can relate better to their communities, and do it soon.

Here's one idea: The Boston Pops just received 200 applications from students in 120 cities in Mass. for a chance to sing in a high school sing-off. The grand prize is a chance to sing with the Boston Pops on the Fourth of July on the Charles River Esplanade...

Sorry, Blogger is giving me problems this week, or I would be posting lots more...


at 5/15/2008 05:30:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone needs to assess why opera is doing well while symphony orchestras struggle. Is it the visual and dramatic aspect of opera? Or do opera companies do better promotion? Or do orchestras schedule too many concerts in a season?

Dick G.

at 5/15/2008 08:10:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Relevancy is a learned concept...there was a time when symphony orchestras were relevant and many people participated in their own community orchestra. We have allowed our education system to not make that concept (symphony orchestra) relevant anymore. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra plight is just another nail in the coffin. We only have ourselves to blame.

at 5/16/2008 12:34:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good comment-why is opera doing well, compare to symphony sales. There are truly too many concerts on the local series plus many smaller groups:CSO versus
Linton, Chamber Music Series, Chamber Orch,CCM, NKU,Ballet,
and maybe a few extras add up to only so many nights and Sundays. When the CSO series asks for a pd down commitment of 22+ concerts, it is easy to say NO, and forget the headache it brings.

Opera has 4, May Festival 5 and CSO 22, so it really is probably an over extension of a good thing. Perhaps this
could be discussed at a CSO board meeting, with the sensible answers to come. Let us hope it does make more sense than what took place in Columbus, OH.

at 5/16/2008 09:22:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great topic to expound on and all the participants on this blog have at one time or another shared their thoughts on "what can be done". The fact of the matter, at least for now in relation to the CSO, is that with the retirement of Mr. Monder as president of the CSO everything is on hold pending the hiring of his replacement at least from the standpoint of strategic planning for the long term. Any news on how this search is going? We could certianly use some fresh air in this position.

at 5/16/2008 11:13:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fresh air is temporary. It won't be too long before the air will become stale again, IF there is not a fundamental structural change in the CSO--its board, management and "relevance" to a diverse community in the 21st century.

at 5/17/2008 03:30:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments of "Anon 5/16 12:34" are years out of date. The CSO could hardly do more to make subscriptions flexible and affordable. They have 5 subscription series ranging from 4 to 8 concerts. As few as 3 concerts (6 vouchers, two people) can be booked on a subscription basis. All 22 can be purchased as a package of course, but many other choices are available. Pricing, however, could be simplified. High "list prices" may be off putting, but many discounts are available.

at 5/18/2008 08:27:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similarities between the Columbus and Cincinnati Symphonies end at the discussion of the general marketability of classical music in general. Their orchestra had NO endowment and some very poor decision making by the board. It certainly sounds like the audience is just not sufficient to sustain a large, professional group.

Cincinnati may be experiencing a short period of waiting while a new CEO is found, but lots of things can happen in marketing the product in the meantime.

Today you have to use all the tools in the media to keep the CSO in people's consciousness.

It's a great orchestra, with a great conductor and I believe it will become one of the top few in the USA in the next few years.

Continued work on the endowment fund, new media and venues are the best recipe for success.

at 5/19/2008 09:14:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, this is kind of a threadjack, but I had to comment on the above poster's view that the CSO "will become one of the top few in the USA".

If there are three other orchestras in the country right now that are as good as this one, then I don't know anything about symphonic performance.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean anything to most people. If the orchestral community wants to continue to exist, they have got to find ways to be relevant to the kinds of people who don't read this blog (or Drew's or Sandow's et c.).

Now, I'm not even talking about the financial situation. Orchestras are not going to become self-sufficient just by converting some of the unwashed out there. But if there is no audience, then the financial situation really doesn't matter.

at 5/22/2008 08:46:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think "Anon 5/16 12:34" comments are out of date at all. Frankly, I think they are a refreshing observations on this wide ranging topic. It begs the question that while they have their place are "subscription packages" a viable method of reaching the masses in this day and age. There are only so many dollars chasing all of the product that is available in this town and when you include in the mix all concerts and other performing arts options at CCM which virtually all of them are free or low cost you have to wonder where you can decide to go on a given night. As far as individual ticket pricing as a whole for any of the "not for profit" organizations the pricing is contrary to the demand for the tickets and other forms of entertainment they are competing against. That day of reckoning is here, but they just don't know it yet.

Steve Deiters/Oakley

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