Programming Decisions Should Be Reconsidered Every Couple Centuries

A lot of discussions occur about how to save classical music institutions, but I think the one that is so obvious that it almost avoids being discussed at all is content. This article makes the point that there are a handful of “Great Men,” as the author calls them, whose music is the only music that orchestral institutions tend to play, at least if they’re expecting to be taken seriously.

Composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Without even touching the questions of sexism or cultural elitism that such a claim suggests, let’s look at it in a much simpler light. Imagine if somebody made a decision about what kind of content to put in your life performance venue, and then you had to live with that decision until the year 2213. It’s hard even to imagine the year 2213, but a couple of hundred years is roughly the age of a lot of the music that’s among that enshrined as the canon of classical music organizations.

I’d say it’s very simple: To stay relevant to the marketplace, content has to be reconsidered frequently. We’re talking about decisions and thought processes that need to change within the course of a single year, not over the course of a couple of centuries.

There are a lot of complex issues when it comes to the survival of cultural institutions like symphonies, but sometimes the most obvious thing is the most important thing.

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