Seattle's own Jon Gallant has delivered his usual trenchant observation
about repertoire and what the people really want. The SSO does program
some easy-listening "modern" stuff, and it is usually well received.
But to be fair, they also did a stunning production of "Bluebeard's
Castle" to sold-out houses. This does not happen often enough. I agree
with Jon that Seattle audiences would love not only Nielsen but also
Higdon. (What's not to like?)
I also agree with Jon in his comment about the dumb-down effect of our
local KING-FM classical music station.
> Could it be that radio is the
> source of our seemingly retrograde musical culture? If it is not the
> source, but rather a reflection, then what is it reflecting? The
> concert-going public is already, it seems to me, far ahead of the audience
> that commercial radio thinks it must pander to.
Here in Seattle we are blessed with the adventurous programming and
excellent performances of the Philharmonia NW, a chamber orchestra
conducted for the last two decades by Roupen Shakarian. I go to all
their concerts, and every time I hear something I have never heard before.
Moreover, the PNW is the only orchestra in these parts that takes an
active interest in the work of NW composers. The down side is that they
operate on the fringe. They do not have the budget to bribe the dailies
for publicity and hype. They are not noticed by KING-FM, and the dailies
quite frankly say that reviews and positive comments are directly related
to money spent on advertising. Of course this situation is bad for music
lovers who might wish to grow beyond "The Four Seasons," and in a way
it keeps everybody from growing. I would guess that this is typical all
I believe that audiences are ready for exciting music. Last fall, the
NW Mahler Festival orchestra performed Turangalila here in Seattle and
managed to fill Benaroya Hall. In fact it was a huge success. This
was done without the help of the professional SSO, and I doubt that
they learned anything from the experience. So -- year after year we
get the dumb-down program on KING-FM and, with few exceptions, the
whole-wheat-on-rye programs with the SSO.
What should we music lovers be doing so as to improve the situation?
How to promote more Nielsen, Rubbra, Sowerby, Higdon, (Lamb?), et al?
David Lamb in Seattle
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