There was an interesting article in the April 24th edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune by Valerie Scher which examined whether or not is was beneficial to have a number of outside orchestras visit a city which hosts a full time orchestra.
The piece does a good job at examining both sides of the equation and has input from a number of different concerned sources. It presents an opinion on the issue from the San Diego Symphony executive director Edward B. “Ward” Gill,
“Two visiting orchestras (per season) at Symphony Hall that’s plenty.”
In the end, having a number of visiting orchestras can only help your situation. Ideally, it would be great to see the bulk of American orchestras expand on currently existing exchange programs; Milwaukee and Minnesota swap out for a week or Indianapolis and Kansas City switch places. It would be fantastic if every orchestra could participate in an exchange program at least one a season.
However, the article presented one concern regarding the idea of bringing in more than a few visiting orchestras each season from San Diego Symphony music director Jahja Ling,
“At the same time, there are understandable concerns about competition with the San Diego Symphony. Unlike its traveling counterparts, the symphony doesn’t tour. That makes it all the more essential for the orchestra to reach local audiences audiences, moreover, that might be attracted to high-profile out-of-towners.
“We are at the point where we need to establish our own identity, our own sense of belonging to our community We want to nurture our audiences here so that they have faith in the symphony.”
But if you consider the fact that if San Diego follows the national average and therefore has about 4% of their local community participates in classical music events, you can feasibly have a visiting orchestra play in your primary venue to a capacity house while the home orchestra uses that time to visit a local suburban community.
In the end, there should be plenty of people to go around and if you take enough time to plan the events in advance to allow for proper marketing, it should be a win-win scenario.
Of course, there’s quite a bit more to discuss on this issue and a number of questions and concerns have probably popped up in your mind. So take a few minuets during a break in your day and talk to someone about it, make it the water cooler topic of the day.