The organic orchestra

I want to share some interesting thoughts from Greg Sandow  via email on my analogies of orchestras and organics……
“Ken,
 
Those are really good points…
I love the organic food analogy. Made me ruminate a bit, and I came up with two thoughts.
 
1. If the entire classical music business is organic food, then it’s got to shrink. There just can’t be enough market (at least on the organic food market) for huge, highly paid orchestras, glossy expensive soloists, and 3000-seat halls.
 
2. But maybe only some classical music is organic food. Just as a supermarket can sell regular and organic produce, an orchestra could do regular and organic concerts. The orchestra, in other words, would have more than one product line, which in fact is a way of thinking that’s beginning to take hold. So I can imagine an institution that does big glossy performances of The Planets, and then has its organic line of early music, and also its hip boutique line of new music concerts. Or something like that!
 
Thanks for getting my brain working,
 
Greg  — one last thought: in pop, the organic food genre would be acoustic music (of course).”
Two more thoughts from me
1-       3,000 seats is awfully big, although the Albert Hall (6,600) can sound and feel intimate. Still, it would be great if there were a viable economic construct where orchestras could offer programs that were leaner in venues that brought the audience as close as possible.
2-       I’m not sure pop needs to be acoustic to be organic. I’d say compression (or at least excessive compression) is definitely the toxic insecticide of pop music, along with excessive sampling in place of real musicians, songs written by marketing departments (see the tomato bred for shipping rather than flavor), and pitch corrected/generate vocals. One reason that we now have so many pop stars with no musical interest or aptitude is that they no longer need any musical skill to make an album as a “singer.” If the pop star in question can speak the words, even out of time, a good engineer can pitch and time correct them into something usable. Definitely not organic. Jimi Hendrix is a good electric organic artist.

 UPDATE- Be sure to read the great comment from hornist Rebekah Shaub

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Spread the word. Share this post!

About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

All material in these pages is protected by copyright.

1 comment on “The organic orchestra”

  1. Rebekah

    Ken,

    i myself have been possessed recently by the idea that music in general has
    gone the way of mass-produced Walmart produce, and would like to see the
    trend reversed, and classical music in particular re-organicize (?) itself.

    my own desire is to see very small, intimate settings (perhaps seating for
    only 30-50 people) with a small round stage in the centre, and sofa/lounge
    seating around the perimeter. of course, some small food and drinks would
    be available. the concept is to present it much more as a visitation
    amoungst friends, with music just happening to be playing (albeit in the
    middle of the room), but my hypothesis is that the intimacy and the comfort
    of the room, as well as the interaction necessitated between the performers
    and the audience by the round stage, would help to de-mystify music that
    might otherwise never get performed.

    i was talking to a new friend of mine out in Newport, and she (as a
    concert-goer from a different generation [she’s 62]) said that whenever a
    programme introduces much else than ye olde warhorses, it intimidates and
    repels her fellow attendees. whereas i have found that classical music in
    general repels and intimidates much of my own peer group because it’s
    boring, stuffy, pretentious, etc…

    it’s disheartening, to say the least, to cultivate a craft that appears to
    alienate almost everyone, and cater to a very specific few…

    thus spake Greg Sandow:

    >I love the organic food analogy.

    cheers. me too.

    >1. If the entire classical music business is organic food, then it’s got to
    >shrink. There just can’t be >enough market (at least on the organic food
    >market) for huge, highly paid orchestras, glossy >expensive soloists, and
    >3000-seat halls.

    but is there really enough market for that now? at least, to sustain it
    through our lifetime, and further? i was (am, i guess) under the impression
    that the sustainability of our classical/orchestral market is of fairly
    large concern (incidentally, i think the issue of sustainability is part of
    the drive back towards organic food…); but it seems that the trend is
    always towards bigger orchestras, bigger audiences. i don’t think that
    lends itself well to sustainability – the dinosaurs became extinct after
    all, but we still have mosquitos. oftentimes, smaller is better.

    aside: please forgive the *extremely* free use of analogies…

    >2. But maybe only some classical music is organic food. Just as a
    >supermarket can sell regular and >organic produce, an orchestra could do
    >regular and organic concerts. The orchestra, in other >words, would have
    >more than one product line, which in fact is a way of thinking that’s
    >beginning >to take hold. So I can imagine an institution that does big
    >glossy performances of The Planets, and >then has its organic line of early
    >music, and also its hip boutique line of new music concerts. Or >something
    >like that!

    perhaps. but how intimate could a Chicago Symphony concert really get? and
    is organic vs. canned really a difference in say, early music vs. the
    Planets? i thought that the difference was much more in the delivery, not
    so much in the repertoire.

    sorry this email is dragging on and on, and is only loosely organized; it’s
    still early in the day for me, and i am not convinced i have any of these
    ideas/opinions fully worked out anyway…

    thanks for the read though. ::whew::

    Rebekah S

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *