Teachout in WSJ misses the point (while making a good one)
Check please

"It has indulged...a narcissistic avant-garde speaking in languages that repel the average committed listener..."

Bernard Holland pithily dissects the two basic sets of problems facing American orchestras, in a very perceptive article from 2003:

The free-enterprise system, which worked so admirably to bring the American city its new wealth, transferred poorly to the performing arts. [...] With good management, it is supposed, money and listeners will come rolling in -- again, a symptom masquerading as a cause. Orchestras are not sick because they have bad management. They have bad management because they are sick. Failing industries do not attract top employees.

[...] As for disappearing audiences, no amount of managing will solve that one. Classical music has only itself to blame. It has indulged the creation of a narcissistic avant-garde speaking in languages that repel the average committed listener in even our most sophisticated American cities.

[...] Fleeing audiences are one more symptom, the cause being a public art that has been abandoned by its avant-garde and uses up its given natural resources with profligacy. Audiences are not to blame. They are smarter than Elliott Carter and Milton Babbitt want to think they are.

Definitely worth a read and some reflection....


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Yes. At its most basic level a think tank represents a point of view and advocates for it. Our point of view is that classical musicians and institutions need to seriously reconsider how they engage the world. We advocate this point of view through our own work (concerts, writings) and also by highlighting the works of others here on the site, with videos and other stuff thrown in for fun.

Granted, when most people hear the term think tank they imagine an ambiguously-titled non-profit funded by the Koch brothers or George Soros that churns out policy papers and attempts to influence legislation. Obviously that's not the case with us. We're two musicians with careers, and the site is an extension of the work we do every day.

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