Thursday, June 07, 2007

More on Globalization

Pliable, along his Overgrown Path, uses the example of the new BBC Proms schedule to raise some important questions about touring orchestras. He could have added to that the question of itinerant conductors. This tours are healthy for music management firms, but -- as far as I'm aware -- no one has made a convincing musical case for the present excesses, and all the best evidence certainly suggests that frequent flyer, non-resident conductors are are detriment to music making (the only beneficiary, of course, are management firms and orchestral managers who are able to consolidate their powers in a vacuum of artistic leadership).

Pliable rightly frames it in terms of the immediate environmental impact. It takes a lot of compact flourescent bulbs to make up for the impact of a single transatlantic flight. But it's not about ending tours or guest conducting gigs, but rather limiting both to a reasonable, and artistically defensible number in a time when information can travel cheaply, but flying an orchestra is an extravagance.

The other issue here is one of locality. Dennis Báthory-Kitsz has campaigned for supporting music by local composers, and this is a fine way of finding common ground with local musicians. Musicians outside of major cultural centers may often appear to be conservative in their programming preferences, but I've often had the startling experience that their scenes are, in fact, less hardened by brand marking and preconception about what repertoire is "appropriate" or not. The result is that musicians in Jackson, Mississippi or Santa Cruz, California, or Hoefgen-Kadisch in rural Saxony can do things that would be impossible in New York or Vienna.

(The image above is Dennis's bumper sticker. You can order or download your own from his website.)

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