Given how much youth orchestras have expanded in recent years you would think that the demand for classical music is going up. Unfortunately, that’s not precisely the case in most cities; nevertheless, youth orchestras are becoming a big business.
The biggest budget youth orchestras have budgets larger than a quarter of all ROPA ensembles and they attract managers from big budget orchestras. And why not? Those top ensembles pay more than some executive directors earn managing ROPA orchestras and far more than all but the highest budget ICSOM ensembles pay their base salary musicians. They also don’t have to deal with those “pesky” musicians unions and their collective bargaining agreements.
But the real issue is how successful are professional orchestras and youth orchestras connecting to build a better classical music culture in their respective communities. Are youth orchestras really a barometer for measuring changes in future interest for classical music or are they just becoming another “planned activity” for parents to schlep their kids to and from?
The Partial Observer published an article of mine today which examines those questions in more detail.