Orchestras in Crisis

Orchestras in Crisis

It is well known that US orchestras are having a lot of difficulties: Attendance is down, ticket prices are up, and several well-known orchestras have declared Chapter-11 bankruptcy. And there are a lot of reasons:

In some cases the orchestra Board is at fault for poor planning, lack of creativity, and lack of realization that times have changed. Audiences are listening to more music on line. In other cases, potential attendees are somewhat bored and tired of conventional presentations that include an overture by Brahms, a concerto by Tchaikovsky or Mozart, and a symphony by Beethoven.

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is an example of an orchestra that is trying to do things right. They have launched the “Digital Concert Hall”, which allows the global on-line audience to see live concerts on the web. Sound and video fidelity are excellent, and the price of about $13 per concert is also acceptable, given that one does not have the expense of driving, parking or babysitting fees.

On Saturday, December 3, 2011, I attended the Berlin Philharmonic (BPO) concert at which their 12 Cello players entertained concert goers of adults and kids for one hour. On the web this concert was FREE, which also shows the Orchestra’s enlightened way of marketing themselves to the public. Kids participated, and everyone had fun. Musical selections were intentionally light, as can be seen from a partial list, below.

• “Caravan” by Duke Ellington (opening)

• “Bosa Nova for 12” (Wilhelm Kaiser-Lindemann)

• Fleur de Paris

• Shostakovich Waltz #2

• Let my People Go

• The Pink Panther (Henry Mancini)

This and all other concerts are now placed in the BPO Archives list, and when you feel like spending an hour or two, you can simply go to archives, pay a small fee (if applicable), and hear a wonderful concert.

There are no easy solutions for the US crisis with symphony orchestras. We can, however, learn from the example of Berlin as to one method to counteract the decline.

Here are The 12 Cellists of the Berliner Philharmoniker in their free live webcast promotion



And here is a live recording from the concert given on March 4, 2009, at the Concert Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic, in Berlin, Germany.



Tags: Berlin Philharmonic, 12 cellists, Digital concert Hall

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