Excite me: the art of the season announcement
In the wake of the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics' season announcements (Los Angeles's season has left a particular afterglow), and in light of the steady stream of other season announcements, or announcements of announcements, that are coming in over the transom, I started to wonder what other orchestras in this country are offering seasons that music-lovers can really get excited about.
(read more after the jump)
It always helps to have a new music director: that "ooh, shiny" instinct is all too powerful in all of us. Thus the other most-watched major orchestra right now is the Chicago Symphony, which is about to announce its first season under Riccardo Muti, having managed the remarkable feat of both landing a genuine superstar music director and also announcing major new initiatives in the areas of new music and outreach (the latter is practically de rigueur in the orchestral community these days, but the former doesn't always embrace it quite as whole-heartedly as Muti is). The orchestra has put out a teaser about its next season (Muti will conduct concert performances of Verdi's "Otello," continuing the CSO's venerable opera-in-concert tradition); the full season will be announced February 25th.
But I think it's relatively rare that a orchestra's season announcement generates genuine excitement. They're received, often, with the mien of a greedy child: what are you giving us, and how good is it, and are you playing my favorite piece? And for the most part, they're fairly predictable: these days, any orchestra worth its salt is going to offer a few world premieres, a festival re-examining the works of a familiar and beloved composer, a Mahler cycle. (Mahler cycles are all the rage at the moment, just as every opera company in the world seems to have been seized with the desire to do its own Ring.)
I'm not saying that orchestras are bad, or that they don't play wonderful programs, or that I don't want to her what they have to offer. And I'm not saying that your average orchestra season doesn't present any number of highlights that could delight a music lover. I'm just observing how rare it is that L.A. managed to make this formula, as a whole, actually sound thrilling.
At least, that's how it sounded to me. I'd be curious to hear your reactions. How many other orchestras are doing that? What season announcements are you looking forward to? What gets you excited about an orchestra season?
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