Live Blog: Spotlight Conversation #1

2:33pm: Neil Harris: culture is a religion to many people. Historically, many concert halls were built almost as temples; you approached as a worshiper. There was a “priest” and a “congregation.” This created a distance between people and the art form.

2:27pm: Interesting question. How do you convince someone of the redeeming spiritual value of music — that experiencing beauty or being intellectually stimulated — actually serves the public good?

2:22pm: How does technology change the relationship between the orchestra and the community? Jesse Rosen: the New World Symphony’s new concert hall with giant outdoor Wallcasts changes the nature of what is “live” — people watch the first part of the concert in the hall, then walk out to experience the second half in the crowd outside. The energy of the crowd is part of the musical experience.

2:19pm: A hundred years ago, there was live music everywhere (cafe orchestras, park bands, etc.) — and you couldn’t carry the music around in your ear. Early funders sometimes saw this as a cheapening of musical taste. Many wanted to establish a “quality” sound.

2:15pm: It can be a challenge to grow an international reputation, while also serving local communities. Orchestras tour around the world and also perform in local senior citizen centers — an amazing range of activity.

2:11pm: Jesse Rosen: the initial focus of orchestras was solely on the quality of the artistic experience, but as our country changed — and as our sensibilities changed about what it meant to be a non-profit organization in America — we’ve seen a shift in what is expected of an American orchestra.

2:07pm: Neil Harris: in the late 19th/early 20th century, cities felt they needed orchestras (and other civic organizations) to place the community on the world map. Philanthropists played the role of city boosters.

2:00pm: SF Symphony Executive Director Brent Assink welcomes the audience and outlines the afternoon. With tongue-in-cheek: “Please participate and stump our panelists with your questions.”

1:57pm: Greetings from Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco! People are taking their places for our first spotlight conversation with Jesse Rosen, President/CEO, League of American Orchestras, and Neil Harris, Professor of History and Art History, University of Chicago; moderated by Mark Clague, Professor of Music, University of Michigan.

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