A press release from San Francisco Symphony brings the news that, as part of the American Orchestras series, we'll get to hear directly from some of the music directors.
Oh, joy. We've heard a variety of from-the-podium yakking from MTT over the years - and by variety, I mean, sometimes good, sometimes not - and at one panel at the San Francisco meeting of the music critics' association, he was in outer space somewhere. Most of the time, I'd just as soon music directors stuck to conducting.
Still, what SFS is proposing is interesting: a dialog about the orchestra in the 21st century. Now, it seems to me that it should be self-evident that "playing the music of our time" should be a major goal of any major orchestra: championing the living and recently-deceased, introducing new works into the repetory, commission new works.
But we should not look to whatever people say as making that kind of commitment. Here's what the press release has to say about the first three speakers, Gustavo Dudamel, MTT, and Alan Gilbert:
Gustavo Dudamel’s keynote conversation Sunday, October 23, “Talking About Community,” kicks off a two-concert residency of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Davies Symphony Hall October 23 and 24. Michael Tilson Thomas and Assink open a discussion of creativity on Saturday, March 17, 2012, in conjunction with San Francisco Symphony’s month-long American Mavericks festival of adventurous American music. Alan Gilbert initiates a discussion on the role of live music in a world of changing audience habits Sunday, May 13, and leads the New York Philharmonic for two concerts May 13 and 14. Composers John Adams and Mason Bates take part in a conversation and discussion following the MTT keynote during the American Mavericks festival event March 17.
Dudamel will talk about El Sistema; MTT will talk about the not-very-mavericky, mostly-dead composers featured in American Mavericks; Gilbert will talk about stuff we've been kicking around in the blogosphere for the last 7 years. I hope he hasn't been talking to Greg Sandow too much.
Okay, I'm joking. I'll put the full details about these appearances after the cut; they're more interesting than I suggest above because of the context. But I am imagining a talk by Franz Welser-Most with a Q&A session. How many times could we work the name "Don Rosenberg" into our questions, I wonder?