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It’s that time of year again – when orchestras proudly truck out their offerings for the next season. The ritual of the annual press conference marks the culmination of a lengthy planning process, involving many considerations and priorities. Here’s a list of the various factors that must be carefully weighed when building a successful orchestral season.

 

What the conductor wants

A big Beethoven cycle, a bigger Mahler cycle, and also lots of guest-conducting spots for his conductor-cronies so that he’ll be reciprocally invited to conduct their orchestras.

 

What’s "de rigueur"

A series devoted to whatever famous composer has a round-numbered birth or death anniversary that year; also a smattering of Boulez, Stockhausen or Carter to remind everyone how much they love Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

 

What the musicians in the orchestra want

What the musicians in the orchestra want does not matter.

 

What the board of directors wants

A big gala fundraiser starring The Three Tenors. (They do not know that Pavarotti is dead.)

 

What the marketing manager wants

Plenty of Mozart, lots of film scores, Renee Fleming singing pop songs, and Yo-Yo Ma playing whatever he likes.

 

What the audience wants

Audiences may not know much about art, but they like what they know.

 

What actually happens

See the glossy brochure.