Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Alex Ross writes today about heartening changes in the American orchestral landscape: rising ticket sales, a move away from hiring European conductors who prefer the 19th century repertory, imaginative programming here, there, and everywhere.

At the end of the posting he refers back to Michael Tilson Thomas's arrival in San Francisco eleven years ago, and I had to sigh. This year's programming had some interesting music never heard here before, much of it conducted by others. A new piece by Steven Stuckey had to be bumped at the last moment because, oops! Steve Reich has a round-number birthday.

The upcoming season has a Brahms festival (innovative!). We will get to re-hear MTT's program about his grandparents, The Thomashefskys.

But I can find no references in the press release to Philip Glass's round-number birthday or the even more impressive round-number birthday that I hope Elliott Carter will be celebrating. I guess we can expect a few more works to be bumped when somebody at the Symphony notices these impending anniversaries. A guest is conducting the Magnus Lindberg commission. As usual, SFS can't be bothered with living Bay Area composers who aren't named Adams.

I understand why MTT wants to examine Brahms in depth. I'm also glad of the many educational initiatives that are under way. But I wish MTT would go back to the great programming on which he built his SFS reputation. At this point, that reputation is what there is; the innovative programming is largely a thing of the past.

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