If you’ve been away for the past week you may have missed the hoopla surrounding the YouTube video of Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s (SSO) performing Baby Got Back with Seattle rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot. The video has racked up nearly two million hits on YouTube as well as a great deal criticism and praise and it’s that last bit that I find completely baffling.
That latter group is genuinely puzzling; if you want to an example of one of the absolute best outreach programs to minority communities that pursues the effort with genuine deference look no further than the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Latino Community Collaborations initiative which functions within their larger Lyric Unlimited community partnership program (granted, you’ll probably need to call or email in order to gather info since it is more difficult than it should be to find a dedicated resource page about the program at their website).
So where does that leave the SSO’s Sir Mix-A-Lot event? Simple, it’s a pops concert featuring a promotional attraction. That’s it, end of story. The show’s success can be gauged by the same two simple metrics applied to the vast majority of pops programs:
- Did it clear a profit?
- Did it damage the orchestra’s reputation?
I can’t answer Question #1 and Question #2 is in the eye of the beholder. What do you think?