To evaluate classical music in 2011 shows us a divided land. One troubling trend shows the continued financial struggles of classical music organizations across the country:
This year, the Philadelphia Orchestra filed for bankruptcy, as did the Lyric Opera of San Diego, canceling the remainder of their season. Elsewhere, Minnesota Orchestra posted the largest deficit in the company's history. In Detroit, the Symphony Orchestra ended a year marred by a six-month musicians strike with a $1.8 million deficit, as well. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra posted deficits for the year of near $4 million. Musicians of the Utah Symphony orchestra have agreed to take pay cuts amounting to over $1 million over the next three years to keep the company going.
And, in New York, the City Opera has dealt with its money troubles by taking the show on the road, leaving Lincoln Center for a set of performances that will span the city, a deeply contentious decision that is still reverberating through the community, as talks between unions and the opera stall. Despite the gloom and doom in the air, however, 2011 also saw a resurgence of interest in "classical" forms, with a number of pop artists trying their hands at composing operas and a pair of festivals celebrating the bustling range of contemporary music.
Though some relegate classical music to the senior citizens and the fur-clad aristos of a former age, 2011 also showed us the political urgency and social ferment that such music can provoke. Demonstrators took over Lincoln Center to listen to Philip Glass -- not his music, but his words. A WikiLeaks opera is in the works, and, by the time it comes out, you may be able to livestream it onto your laptop.
For a form that's often considered stagnant, 2011 was anything but. As some walls fall, others go up in their stead. And all the while, music plays.
Read on for our list of the 11 biggest moments in classical music in 2011: