Vanity, Thy Name Is Classical Music?

The Partial Observer published an article of mine today about an issue which was initiated by my Arts Journal blogging neighbor, Greg Sandow. Last week, Greg began blogging about a new classical music magazine from the U.K. named MUSO…


Although most readers that have posted comments over at Sandow have been hashing over what I call the “Ken & Barbie” issue, I think it all goes much deeper than that. Instead, the point I think Greg keeps making (and rightly so IMHO) has more to do with projecting an image as opposed to demanding that musicians look like and act like pop starts.

Take a moment to read my article at The Partial Observer and head over to read what Greg has up as well as his reader’s comments (relevant links are all in The Partial Observer article) and then weigh in with your own thoughts.

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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1 thought on “Vanity, Thy Name Is Classical Music?

  1. I wrote to MUSO once, just a tad tongue in cheek, mind you, to ask if I could subscribe, being old and all. They didn’t respond. I actually did want to subscribe, but couldn’t see a way to do so. It seemed that (at least then) you had to be in the UK.

    I must confess that I, a rather unattractive, older OBOE (unhip instrument, to be sure) player, am tremendously insecure about the whole looks thing. I mean, I might be “Music: 10, looks: 3” … well, okay … I’m not even “Music 10”, but it just fit the near-famous tune to put it that way … and so I’m put off and even a little hurt to think that looks matter so much.

    One musician that has been mentioned by the magazine, you, and several others, who is drop-dead gorgeous, played with us several years ago. The individual’s performance? Well, it was actually horrendous. And I wondered about that. Have we come to the point where we will accept less quality in performance because someone is so splendid to look at? And does an audience HEAR how poor the player is anyway? I wonder.

    The player was also rude, condescending, and even threatened to not go on for the second performance.

    I was not impressed.

    And maybe it’s all sour grapes here. I dunno.

    Sorry for the ramble. You caught me in a robe, eating my raisin bran. Probably not the best time to be thinking on this! 🙂

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