The Value Of Contemporary Music

The argument of old music vs. new music has been raging for decades and in recent years it’s taken a severe turn as orchestras scramble to keep their audiences.  As a result, some artistic managers are pushing to program standard repertoire and other works they believe will be the most “audience friendly”.


In the end, this strategy will only be self defeating as the real value of classical music is how it touches each individual in the audience.  There’s no way to dictate how music will reach someone nor is there any guarantee that older music will reach people better than newer music. 


The Partial Observer published an article of mine today which examines this in more detail. Specifically, it examines recent events surrounding the passing of Pope John Paul II; a man who would easily fall into a category of being a traditionalist, yet one of his favorite classical music composeres is Henryk G

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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