It’s no secret that, like most orchestras across the country, the Baltimore Symphony is in financial difficulty, looking desperately for new sources of revenue and trying hard to attract ticket-buyers. As a subscriber, I sometimes can’t help feeling it would be better if the symphony died a quiet, dignified death. It might be preferable to the current cringe-inducing hustle, the posters of Marin Alsop, Paul McCartney tributes, wine-tasting nights and SuperPops. This month, for example, the Schumann concert is billed as “A Beautiful Mind,” and will be accompanied by an on-stage discussion about whether “manic episodes were responsible for Schumann’s bursts of creative genius” (who cares?). Even worse, throughout May, many concerts are paired with “Decorators Show House events,” in which symphony-goers are invited to visit a local show home and to “Purchase the perfect gifts and quality additions to your home décor from among designer items displayed throughout the Show House and from the on-site boutique.” When a concert that would interest me is paired with a “theme” like this, I’m immediately turned-off—why assume that those who like classical music are also interested in “designer home décor”? If this is what the symphony has come to, I’d prefer to sit at home and listen to the radio. At least I can turn it off when the ads come on.

2 replies on “BSO Music for Sale”

  1. I’m not sure I understand your point. Instead of trying to broaden its appeal with a more diverse range of programming, the BSO would be better off if it JUST DIDN’T EXIST ANYMORE? Perhaps the point isn’t to attract people who are already interested, but to inform people about music that is harder and harder connect with as the years pass and make it relevant for today.

    And in the case of the Decorators’ Show House, that is a major fundraiser for the BSO! So though it may have no appeal for you it clearly has appeal for many of the BSO’s patrons.

    But perhaps you’re right. Maybe the BSO should just quietly go about the business of classical music, dutifully kowtowing to the sticks-in-the-mud whose naysaying is probably responsible for the state of the genre today.

  2. Personally, I enjoy the creative ideas that have spawned new and interesting outlets for enjoying classical music. I loved the Beethoven CSI offering and the BSO’s performance of the score to the movie Psycho was a hoot! A discussion re: Schumann’s mental condition as it contributed to his creativity sounds interesting, indeed. As for the decorator showcases, they’re fun and benefit a great cause. They are certainly not mandatory for those who are not interested. The hard reality is it takes money to make these venues available and I applaud those who put their efforts into raising the necessary funds in a way that is appealing to a good majority of their patrons.
    The music is sublime, the musicians are wonderful, and I can’t imagine why anyone would rather see that go away than to open their minds to new avenues in appreciation of the art and genius of those who created its masterpieces. If you want the basic format, you’re welcome to enjoy it. For those of us who like exploring a variety of applications, Bravo BSO!

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