Bits and Pieces: The March to Mediocrity

Across America musically-illiterate members of symphony boards and professional arts management types (the parasites of the art world) have teamed up with what used to be called, "Madison Avenue," to "sell product" to their subscribers. They have the mistaken notion that "appealing to the general public" with so-called "pops" concerts and faded (2nd tier) rock'n rollers performing with classically-trained musicians will bring in "new" audiences and will improve their bottom line. Bottom fishers! Which leads us back to an earlier point: as with fishing, trolling for the "bottom-dwellers" is not sustainable. There are too many spectacles to distract those kinds of audiences audiences: sports, planetary events, weather crisis, political mayhem, crime du jour. Like recent failed economic policies, the ideology of this formula fails, too, but it's adherents on orchestra boards continue to tout it. Are they out to kill art, or are they just stupid?

Note to marketers/managers: you don't have to "sell" classical music; it sells itself. True story: a young workman clomps through a house under renovation, hears a Mozart piano concerto playing on the radio, stops dead in his tracks to listen, and asks, "What's that?" When told, not familiar with what "Mozart" is, he  whispers, with an expression of sudden illumination and emotion, "I like that."

Note to board members: Art is not a business. Consult experts who know why it is not.
Note to music-lovers: a non-profit cultural resource requires understanding and generous patrons.

Note to educators, public radio/TV stations, newspapers: expose, teach, broadcast, critique. A public forum with time and space, devoted exclusively, every day, to the arts enriches our lives and our American culture. America is not only about finance, sports, politics and Hollywood.

Note to musicians: fire the board and management and take control of your orchestra and your repertoire. Your patrons are on your side. Ask the musician-led Berlin Philharmonic how they did it.