As we celebrate the start of the symphony season -- the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has its opening gala, featuring flutist James Galway, on Sept. 22 -- there are at least five orchestras that will remain silent.
Norman Lebrecht, the British watchdog of the classical music world, will brief you on the situation on his blog, Slipped Disc. Lebrecht, remember, visited Buffalo not long ago and gave a wonderful talk about Mahler at Denton, Cottier and Daniels. He was on a book tour for his book "Why Mahler?" and was visiting all the American cities that Gustav Mahler visited.
It is shocking to hear that the well-regarded Atlanta Symphony is paralyzed. The Minnesota Symphony, too. The Minnesota Symphony was previously the Minneapolis Symphony and has an exalted history.
The musicians of the Indianapolis Symphony are going part-time.
There is a long string of comments on Norman's blog, with people who seem to know what they are talking about kicking around a lot of ideas and comparing situations with their own hometowns.
Some of the ideas are kind of boneheaded. You do not want to ruin what the present audiences love about symphony concerts in order to cater to a crowd that, who knows if these people would show up or not, anyway.
I think a good part of the problem orchestras are seeing is that fewer and fewer people can focus on anything for more than two seconds. Just walking around downtown yesterday I was struck by how many people I saw who were unable to walk down the sidewalk and enjoy the beautiful day without fussing nonstop with their iPhones. I mean, I love my iPhone, I adore it, but there is a time and place. Beethoven and Brahms and Mozart require concentration and that is one thing that is in increasingly short supply.
Hate to say it! But it is true.
And how do you fix it? I don't know.
Meanwhile, though, it's great that our orchestra is starting another season, in good shape.
Long live the BPO!
-- Mary Kunz Goldman