Monday, April 18, 2011

Nice work if you can get it

The Philadelphia Orchestra dropped a bombshell over the weekend by announcing it was declaring bankruptcy.
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, where the orchestra's home base is, issued a statement today. Here is part of it, in the words of the center's president and CEO Anne Ewers:

"This is a difficult day for all of us in the Philadelphia arts community. And it is an understandably anxious moment for the employees and performers whose dedication and talent make the orchestra so extraordinary. But it is our hope, and our confident belief, that today’s action will prove to be, not an epilogue, but the beginning of the long-term recovery of one of the nation’s great orchestras. We know the able leadership of the orchestra is focused solely upon the best interests of the orchestra and its patrons in making this difficult judgment.

While the financial-management options made available through bankruptcy now can be explored, we know that a sustainable solution will require sacrifice and enhanced support from the entire orchestra community of family and friends – and the Kimmel Center proudly counts itself among them. Indeed, we currently subsidize our resident companies and we have already accepted substantial reductions in the orchestra’s rent obligations to the Kimmel Center this fiscal year. Moreover, we have communicated to the orchestra board that we stand ready to discuss their request for further accommodations."

This comes a few short days after I talked with five vivacious musicians from the Curtis Institute of Music, who gave educational assemblies to students at Inglewood Elementary School in Towamencin. These twentysomethings are all hoping to one day get a job with a major orchestra like the Philadelphia Orchestra ... and that goal just became significantly muddled.
Here's the video I shot from that day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Analog angst

Being 40 years old, I've amassed a sizable collection of cassette tapes. In an ongoing process of digitally converting my old tunes, I've noticed something mortally depressing.
With many tapes in my collection at least - gulp - 25 years of age, I'm frequently finding that I open a cassette case to discover that the felt square in the cassette mechanism, where the tape meets the playback head of the cassette player, has disappeared, as if it somehow disintegrated. If it had just fallen off, I could glue it back in place. But nope, it's gone. Is it faulty manufacturing, leaving them in a hot/cold car, or the tape deck on my '01 Chevy Cavalier eating them (after 2003, cars with a tapedeck were dead as dinosaurs!)? I don't get it.
Call me old school, but I'm not a fan of having to buy an album (another antiquated notion) a second time. Digital downloads are OK, but it's not the same thing as holding the music - be it vinyl, cassette or CD - in my hands.
I'm the same way with newspapers - put it in my hand, so that it's tangible and real.