view of Seaside, Florida

When orchestras rack their brains to discover the ways that they are relevant to their communities, they invariably come up with a wide range of replies that almost never includes their concert hall. Yet there is little else that could appear on that list that is as permanent and concrete as the daily encounter of a community with its concert hall.

Chef Spike Gjerde. Image courtesy of Woodberry Kitchen.

The prescriptions most loudly recommended for America’s challenged orchestras today stress complicity with the modern realities of speed, technology, and globalization. Shorter, quicker concerts geared towards shorter, quicker attention spans; the sensual and intellectual stimulation of novelty and fashion; harnessing technological innovation to prove that we can keep up; focusing our attention on bigger halls, bigger stars, and wider distribution, emphasizing the global and universal rather than the local and the particular – these are answers we hear over and over. But what if they’re wrong?

Roger Scruton, Wiltshire, England, November 2011. Image credit: Frantzesco Kangaris/Eyevine/Redux.

Those charged with the tasks of managing our musical institutions and of providing the vision that will guide them through our present into their future, those who make important decisions for the sake of the communities our musical institutions serve, those with the awesome responsibility of discharging accumulated wealth through foundations dedicated to the flourishing of art and culture, and the general public with whom power ultimately lies to demand that music be a part of their children’s education, to participate in their communities’ musical life, and to support our musical institutions, are in desperate need of this book.

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