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CLASSICAL  March 2008

CLASSICAL March 2008

Subject:

Re: My "Blind Taste Test" at an NSO Concert

From:

Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 27 Mar 2008 18:07:26 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (101 lines)

Jeff Dunn <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Here's a plan, Pres:
>
>MONEY: (1) Form a NPO, the purpose of which is to recognize and promote
>neglected but worthy works of CM.  Initially, I would recommend excluding
>works by living composers, so as not to enter the political maelstrom
>of the current contemporary music scene and face charges of bias.  For
>a start, I would suggest even excluding works not in the pubic domain,
>to avoid pressures from publishers, but this is only an option.

MONEY: I am happy to form an NPO...I will need board members...I have
formed two NPOs and serve as President of both...I can make the time for
another.

I believe, that to succeed, one must speak on a level orchestra
managements understand.  I have no sense that management and Boards
know much of anything about music or care much about the art.  Further,
for all of the banter about being run like a business...well they certainly
wouldn't make it in the market place.  The raw materials (soloists,
conductors and administrators) are overpaid, but you won't change that.
To change that, the entire system would have to collapse.  What one does
need is some financial incentive to change their perspective.

My guess is that they would estimate a performance of composer X would
lose them $X in ticket sales.  So, to get them to play a symphony by
Daniel Gregory Mason, you would have to offer them $X.  Of course they
would probably say that the fall out from doing such a "radical" thing
would incur collateral damage...outraged Board members and subscribers.
So you could expect them to want you to underwrite a major portion of a
season.

>(2) Construct a Proposal for grants to fund activities

What would be the activities we should fund?

>(3) Form a Committee of "experts" (qualifications TBD, Could include
>critics, academics, others who pride themselves on exposure to a vast
>range of repertoire over one or more historical periods of music. Adding
>a celebrity or two might be a good idea as well.)

Whew...now you are asking for trouble.  Academics...ok...let me tell you
about my experience in academe...well, maybe not, it is too depressing.
Music critics...there are a few like Paul Snook, Walter Simmons, et al
who do know the literature.  I know both of them and I am sure they would
enjoy participating.  Maybe we could get Alex Ross to join in.

>(4) Have the Committee determine criteria for "Most Neglected Work for
>the Year" and solicit nominations from appropriate sources.  A principal
>source should be that of recording companies, whose sales figures and
>reviews of releases could provide some objective evidence.  We might
>even be able to get some cash from them.

Cash from a record company...well maybe Naxos...if you were to perform
something they have in their catalog.  However, consider the notion of
objective evidence...risky business...one has to make sure the bean
counters are counting the right beans.

>I don't think many people attend concerts because of repertoire. A big
>name is far more likely to attract them.

I cannot tell you how many conductors I know that would love to program
less familiar repertoire.  However, their Executive Directors will veto
it.  I have heard things like "Mahler is Death." Yet, you ask them why
someone comes to a concert they will tell you it is the name soloist
that sells the show.  You can't have it both ways.

Ok.  I need Board members, a set of bylaws and a budget. We also need a
statement of purpose and vision statement.

We also need to decide how we are going to sell this concept to potential
donors.  It won't be easy.  I believe the whole conceptualization of the
business of art music is contradictory.  Orchestras market themselves
as entertainment.  Yet they don't make their way on a cost recovery
basis.  Also, how do you market your development when your product is
entertainment.  Do you see the Rolling Stones looking for donations to
sponsor their concerts.

From my limited business experience, if one is in a failing business,
you start a parallel business which in time will overtake the failing
business.  I like to make the comparison to how libraries, due to their
inefficiency, failed their patrons.  The internet, Google and Yahoo came
along and have just about replaced libraries.

That is why I believe in forming an orchestra with a new business model,
an organization which reflects the modern means of music distribution,
with an administrative structure that reflects efficient business
practices, and a budget more aligned to the realities of the market
place.  Maybe it can't be done, but it seems to me to be a worthwhile
idea.

I am happy to follow through on the ideas that have been suggested, but
I would need a board. Feel free to contact me off-list.

Karl

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