The Mouth of the Beast writes The Value of Regional Orchestras:
Teachout’s argument makes me sad. I appreciate the local orchestras I’ve patronized throughout my life for both tangible and less tangible reasons. I find listening to music–just listening–very hard. A live orchestra provides a visual accompaniment to the music. It’s for this reason that I prefer YouTube videos of unfamiliar works to recordings where possible. If not, I use a score. I think it has to do with mirror neurons; by watching the musicians, I get to feel a little bit of what it feels like to directly manipulate the sound.
I also think that a reliance on recordings for the “quality” or “right” performance is a crutch that hurts music in the long term. The mentality that if you’re not going to hear (or produce) a perfect performance, then the whole thing is worthless runs counter to individual participation with music. Why participate in a community softball league if nobody is going to the world series? It’s a ridiculous standard that is not applied to any other part of community life, but this gets confused by the quality and ubiquity of recordings.
Inside the Classics writes Another Round of Navel Gazing:
[there is a] disconnect between those who think about orchestras for a living and those who actually make our living by them. Which is not to say that the outsiders are always wrong and we’re always right – the whole point of bringing in a consultant is to get a fresh take on your company’s situation from someone with no internal baggage. It’s just that so many of those wringing their hands about the future either seem to be suggesting that we magically conjure a massive new audience for orchestral music that absolutely adores both Brahms and Stockhausen; or that we slash overhead to a point where the constant fundraising that keeps orchestras afloat can cease to be so difficult. Both of these are completely bubbleheaded notions that cannot be achieved in the real world, and they are therefore unhelpful, no matter how prettily they’re packaged.
Sounds & Fury writes Bloody Unbelievable:
Therefore, reasons Mr. Teachout (or so it seems), while experiencing reproduced paintings in, say, a deluxe coffee table book or plays reproduced via DVD is a categorical no-no because experiencing reproduced paintings and recorded stage presentations cannot possibly equal the aesthetic experience of the live thing, with classical music, experiencing a reproduction (heard via an MP3 on a bloody iPod, no less!) is a perfectly acceptable substitute aesthetically for experiencing a live performance, especially when that live performance is by an orchestra that’s something less than world-class.
David Stabler writes Are Regional Orchestras Obsolete?
I think Teachout underplays the importance of experiencing live music.
Hearing and watching the “Resurrection” unfold in the presence of an enormous orchestra, a large choir, vocal soloists and seatmates all around me makes the listening experience immediate and communal. I am caught up in the music differently from how I get caught up with music on headphones. In the concert hall, I witness the physical unfolding of it, the effort to produce the notes, the rhythmic beat of the conductor, the tension of executing it well. Live listening is how Mahler intended his music to be received.
Not all music today is written for communal consumption (video games, for example), but most concert music is.
Drew McManus writes Faulty Reasoning (quoting a comment from Craig Knox):
Teachout then betrays his bias as a drama critic, saying that while the justification for small theater companies is “self-evident”, small orchestras can enjoy no such privilege. He bases this claim soley on the fact that theater companies such as Palm Beach Dramaworks mount “first-class productions of a sophisticated repertory”, including “challenging shows” by Ionesco. “Most” regional orchestras, he says matter-of-factly, offer a “predictable mix of ultrafamiliar classics and soufflé-light pops”. Performances by the local theater, he says, “cannot be duplicated by any other means”, while the familiar classics of the local orchestra can just as easily be heard on iTunes. Thinking about this for more than a few seconds, one wonders if Mr. Teachout has heard of the DVD player (or the VCR before that, or “Masterpiece Theater” before that for god sakes). Why is it that Teachout so glibly replaces live music performance with recordings, but submits as “self-evident” the fact that drama cannot in any way be duplicated outside of the theater?