Classical music participation rates have held steady for the last five years, stopping a steady decline through 2008. Orchestras have been keeping their feet to the pedals as they innovate at unprecedented rates to develop audiences.
Orchestras have some choices ahead. They can observe these developments as interesting and positive but ultimately not relevant to their futures. Or they might want to find ways to affiliate and partner with these ensembles, leveraging their respective assets.
The next time orchestras are taken to task for being too European, too Caucasian, and too male-dominated, one might reference the new and growing generation of music directors who bring an inclusive sensibility and dimension to artistic leadership.
Meet the 21st Century American Orchestra: Sweeping labor cuts, lockouts, strikes, and a management culture with declining human values. Unfortunately, musicians in Spokane, Washington have found themselves next in line.
These are heady times for the League of American Orchestras and their ilk. Hardly a week goes by without another orchestra lockout or strike. If ever the musicians needed an industry watchdog, it's today.