BREAKING- Leading Professional Orchestra To Give Up Music

5490277-no-music-signA leading professional orchestra has announced they are giving up rehearsing, teaching and performing music to focus on their “core mission,” it has been announced.

The board and management of the Southlands Sinfonia in Weicester have decided to cancel all future plans for concerts, recordings and music courses to “focus on what makes this orchestra great- our relationship with the community, our sense of partnership and engagement, and the role we play in developing the local economy. We are going to focus all our energies on changing perceptions of the orchestra, reimaging the orchestra as a post-musical organization for the 21st Century.”

“These are difficult times and we have to make hard choices,” said Sinfonia CEO Mortimer Platitüde . “Putting on concerts takes time and money. Sometimes, the cost of rehearsals has been so great that some of the musicians have actually had to take their own time to practice their parts at home instead of learning them where they should- in the safety of the workplace.”

“What’s really important for the future of the SS is the way in which we are perceived in the community. By giving up music, we can focus on developing the community’s perception of what we do for the community we serve with the partners we work in partnership with.”

Platitüde cited a string of new strategic goals for the orchestra as they move bravely into a post- music world. “We want everyone to know how accessible we are. And how friendly. It’s vitally important for everyone in the community who we engage with collaboratively in partnership to know how friendly and accessible we are in the community.”

These are exciting times for orchestras like the SS says Platitüde because orchestras today have so many more tools for spreading the word about how unthreatening and likeable they are. “We’ve found brightly coloured t-shirts are a great tool for changing perceptions of the orchestra from being a group of people who wear dark colours and long sleeves to being a group of people who were jeans, trainers and brightly coloured t-shirts. Our research shows us that for every concert we cancel, we can buy a whole new set of brightly coloured t-shirts. One for everyone in the orchestra! By the end of what would have been our season, we will have t-shirts in yellow, red, green, light green, forest green, funky green, blue, bright blue, navy blue (although we try to avoid using these as they are too close to black and may negatively affect people’s perceptions of us), light navy blue, sky blue, teal, dark teal, pink, lavender, salmon and terra cotta. Of course, there’s only so much we can do in one year- enhancing our reputation for being accessible in the community will take many years and a shed load of t-shirts!” Platitüde was non-committal when pressed about whether the orchestra would be investing in matching jeans for the musicians. “There’s a lot we still have to learn about the shape of the 21st Century Orchestra. We know that trainers are perceived as being more accessible than dress shoes, but are they really the most accessible? Perhaps we’ll be the first UK orchestra to wear crocs in our concerts! Oops, did I say “concerts?” Can you correct that to “family friendly events”?”

The SS will also be changing the focus of its vaunted youth programmes. “The SS Youth will no longer be a youth orchestra- instead they will be a project. We’ve found that trying to teach 60 teenagers to play the last movement of Sibelius 2 in a few days makes it very hard to innovate and deliver social impacts.”

Social media will also be a major focus for the SS as they look to the future. “We all know that there is nothing more important for a modern orchestra than our social media presence. However, our research shows that of our current 1578 Facebook friends, over twelve hundred of them all seem to work on the same click farm in Egypt. The rest seem to be freelance musicians scrounging for work, the orchestra’s librarian and the volunteer who used to run the parents’ group for what was our youth orchestra. We can do better without music.”

No music

The Southlands Sinfonia:  Better Without Music!

“By focusing on our key mission, we can use all of our contact time with our musicians to focus on proving to the community how friendly we are. Our musicians are our most powerful advocates for the organization, but many of them are deeply troubled and depressed people. Several are clearly anti-social. It sometimes takes up to 500 exposures to get a picture of one of them smiling with a cute child at a children’s concert. By doing away with music at those events, we can spend the entire event time making sure we’re capturing the wonderful relationship that exists between our musicians and local young people for our social media channels.”

Platitüde says the future of the SS is the future of orchestras everywhere. “I’m just so excited about what this orchestra can do without music!”

 

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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

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7 comments on “BREAKING- Leading Professional Orchestra To Give Up Music”

  1. Chris

    “Sometimes, the cost of rehearsals has been so great that some of the musicians have actually had to take their own time to practice their parts at home instead of learning them where they should- in the safety of the workplace.”

    Strange! I guess he’s saying that they were unable to hold rehearsals at all… ?

    The speaker doesn’t know the difference between “practice” and “rehearse”. Sigh.

  2. Diane Lovejoy

    “However, our research shows that of our current 1578 Facebook friends, over twelve hundred of them all seem to work on the same click farm in Egypt. The rest seem to be freelance musicians scrounging for work, the orchestra’s librarian and the volunteer who used to run the parents’ group for what was our youth orchestra.”

    OMG my tummy hurts… this was brilliant… sad but a total spew alert.

  3. Warren Cohen

    I shared this. It was way too close to home. I don’t know how often I have complained that funders want to fund everything except what we really need to do, which is make music. And I have banned the word “accessible” from my vocabulary and from the vocabulary of everybody in my organization. A small and infantile protest, but it makes me feel better

  4. LaNeshe

    This is SPOT ON. Great satirical representation of the sad state of affairs with the funding community.

  5. Estranged

    After all, and orchestra is so much more than just music; it’s a concept, the potential for music. It is what it represents far more than it is what it does. So if you want to form a strong community bond, you must represent the community, because who can identify with anyone not exactly like themselves?

    By continuing to identify as an orchestra, the Southlands Sinfonia continues to carry the torch for its musical niche, without alienating people with such stodgy principles as professionalism, perfectionism, preparation, and an off-putting, elitist commitment to polish and proficiency. Gone are the threadbare rituals of performance and presentation, of silent and critical reflection by an audience excluded from their own freedom to participate as they wish in the proceedings. Down with barriers! Up with freedom!

    Now musicians can declare a performance wherever, whenever, with whomever, doing whatever they wish. It could be walking down the street, drinking a pint at a pub, buying a newspaper, groping a passerby, or sitting on the toilet. Performance has been democratized! It has become one with the community! Every interaction with the community is a family friendly event, so why be selfish and sequester yourself in a rehearsal, segregated from the public? The community is the orchestra, so why not invest in that?

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