What do the future of American Orchestras and the America’s Cup have in common?

The America’s Cup and the American Orchestra have more in common than you might think, as Cheeko Matsusaka explores in this blog post. Originally from Newton, Massachusetts, Cheeko Matsusaka currently lives in Sarasota, Florida where she is a cellist with the Sarasota Orchestra. Hers is the first of three winning blog posts from our recent American Orchestra Forum blog contest.

Blog contest winner Cheeko Matsusaka

Have we all focused too much on the [America’s] Cup’s proven past rather than understanding its potential? As such, the resulting changes are substantial. It is crucial to end the uncertainty and lay the groundwork for continuity. To put in place a calendar of regular racing; exciting racing that is shorter and sharper and more spectacular. Racing that matches the expectations of the Facebook generation, not the Flintstone generation.

— Russell Coutts, CEO Oracle Racing

What does the future of American Symphony Orchestras and the America’s Cup have in common? Aside from San Francisco, quite a lot. I’ve been following the event since the late 90′s and have always felt a strange sort of empathy for the Cup. It seems to share a common thread with professional music’s efforts to honor traditions and still allow the art to grow and have relevance to in a modern world. Both share the potential for breathtaking displays of beauty and power, but suffer from the old stereotype of closed doors and aloofness. Both struggle to dispel those misconceptions without alienating those who already support it. Both are trying to reach out to a new generation by jumping head first into the overwhelming mass of new technologies. The American Orchestra thoughtfully hesitates at this precipice, but the America’s Cup has the taken the fateful leap. I am watching carefully and taking detailed notes. If the planned America’s Cup event can maneuver a safe landing, they will serve as a standard bearer of adaptation and evolution in an era plagued by threats of extinction.

The thread between Orchestras and the America’s Cup resurfaced when I was having a bit of a disagreement with one of my colleagues. We were talking about a web and Facebook page for the musicians in my orchestra. The colleague thought we should focus our energies on a static webpage and forget about Facebook. He thought Facebook was a fad that would run its course. In addition, he feared we risked alienating people who didn’t do Facebook. Was he serious? Yes, he was serious and to my growing frustration, he wasn’t the only person in the conversation who chimed in on the worthlessness of social networks. My jaw dropped. Yaba daba doo… I went home that night and started work on a web page and blog. Then in mock defiance, I created a Facebook page and did the unthinkable. I joined Twitter. Did I know what to do? Of course not, but I knew we had to. Ignoring social media was simply not an option. I had seen what happens when social networking is discounted. That was back in 2003 during the Louis Vuitton and America’s Cup campaigns.

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