Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I think of orchestras, even the big ones, as being local organizations. San Francisco Symphony is a San Francisco organization, even with the odd run-out to Sonoma, Stanford, or Davis. The New York Philharmonic is a NYC organization, the BSO takes in Boston (and of course summers in Tanglewood).

So it was mighty strange to start getting email from the NYPO telling me about their new Ann Arbor, MI. Here's a slideshow from their "inaugural" residency in AA. (Note the tiny white type - okay, it sure looks tiny on a 15" MBP. Not good.)

Here's what the press release, such as it is, terms this:
....the inaugural performance residency of its five-year partnership with the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan, in conjunction with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. 
I just don't understand what's going on here. Which way is the money flowing? Who benefits?  

Let's take a look at the distance from Ann Arbor to a few other cities with big-time orchestras, all as the Ford drives, and ask ourselves what, exactly, the relationship is between the University of Michigan and the New York Philharmonic:
  • Ann Arbor to Detroit: 43.5 miles
  • Ann Arbor to Cleveland: 167 miles
  • Ann Arbor to Chicago: 240 miles
  • Ann Arbor to Pittsburgh: 284 miles
  • Ann Arbor to Philadelphia: 582 miles
  • Ann Arbor to NYC: 613 miles
Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, and Pittsburgh aren't good enough? Don't have the dough for this? Or what? An awful lot of people in my area drive 40 miles to and from work every day.

Oh, wait: Cleveland has its own residency - in Miami, I seem to recall. And there's a photo in the slideshow of Matthew VanBiesen, the chief executive of the NYPO, giving a talk on 21st C. Orchestras and Social Impact. I wonder how that might sound coming from the chief executive of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, considering the very different circumstances of the cities where their orchestras reside.


Molly said...

I think this is a bit different from the Cleveland/Miami arrangement. It is a five year deal set up by the University Musical Society (an independent presenter located on the U of M campus) with the NYPO as the anchor group, and two other groups - BerlinPhil (!), and one other TBA.

It is of course still fair to ask why not Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, etc.


Michael Strickland said...

There must be some serious money at the "University Musical Society," which sounds like the Midwest's version of Cal Performances. It would be fascinating to know the real back story. MTT and the SF Symphony often stop for one or two concerts at Ann Arbor when they conduct a national tour, and the fact that the Berlin Philharmonic is also on the list is sort of mind-boggling.

Molly said...

Their financial report for 2013-14 lists assets of ~$19.5 million, and liabilities of ~$1.2 million. They also describe an ongoing fund raising campaign with goal of $50 million, of which $30 million is intended to build the endowment.

It's an old organization, going back to 1880. They are presenting the CSO on October 29th, RPO in January, MontrealSO in March, BavarianRadioOrch in April. Plus numerous chamber, solo, choral and dance ensembles.