#TBT Counterfeit Moneyball

Since we’re on a roll this week with the idea of Moneyballing the orchestra sector, it’s worth pointing out that there’s no shortage of examples where attempts to apply data driven analysis to conventional wisdom decision making can end in tears. For example: using historic repertoire sales data for future artistic planning. Mahler Meets Moneyball? Probably Not. Now, one area I would love to see some artistic planning data mining is …

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Alex Ross Could Not Be More Right

There’s a wonderful article by Alex Ross in the May 16, 2022 edition of The New Yorker where the author declares the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) is one of “America’s Boldest Orchestras.” Granted, he roped me in right out of the gate by framing the piece with a comparison of SDSO’s budget and the salary of Chicago Symphony’s music director. The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the musical pride of Sioux …

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The Programmatic Lightness Of Being

It’s funny how the pandemic can make old conversation new again when viewed through the lens of hyper pragmaticism. The whole traditional vs. contemporary programming debate is a good example. Recently, the New York Times published an interview with cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han, who jointly run the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In a nutshell, the couple makes it clear that traditional repertoire has more than enough artistic …

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It Isn’t Often You See This Much Potential For Artistic Change

The 8/3/2021 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an article by Jeremy Reynolds that takes a deeper than normal look at the 13 openings at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO). 13 simultaneous openings at an orchestra of this budget size that isn’t emerging from a major labor dispute and/or financial implosion is highly unusual. What’s more, five of those are principal level positions and one fixed seat position. 1st violins, three …

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Things That Keep Me Up At Night

Last week, the news about a certain west coast orchestra with plans on performing one of the most demanding Mahler symphonies as their post-pandemic season opener arrived in my inbox. Earlier this month I launched a mini-series examining the dangers of musician injuries if an orchestra attempts this type of programming without first allocating time to allow musicians to reacclimate to those types of demands. Think of it as a type …

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