Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And We Get Stiffed Yet Again By The Boston Symphony . . .

After buying tickets to hear Daniele Gatti conduct the Boston Symphony in music of Brahms (Symphony No. 3), Hindemith (Concert Music For Strings And Brass) and Richard Strauss (“Der Rosencavalier” Waltz Sequence) next month at Symphony Hall, Joshua and I noticed tonight that the Boston Symphony website now lists a different program and a different conductor for that weekend’s concerts.

Daniele Gatti has morphed into Vasily Petrenko, and Brahms, Hindemith and R. Strauss have morphed into Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich.

There is no explanation—or even mention—of the changes of program and conductor on the concert calendar of the Boston Symphony's website.

What was there one week is gone the next, like a conjuring trick.

Perhaps the Boston Symphony believes that its patrons will not even notice such changes?

Josh and I searched online for some kind of announcement, alerting the public to the change of conductor and the change of program. Our search came up empty.

Finally, in exasperation, we plowed through the Boston Symphony’s press releases.

Inserted into a very lengthy, multi-page press release dated August 31, and placed at the very end of an endless paragraph containing 272 words, were three sentences:

Young Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko will lead the BSO in a program featuring works by Russian composers Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich, October 8-10. BSO assistant conductor Julian Kuerti will conduct the program on October 13. This program conducted by Mr. Petrenko and Mr. Kuerti will replace the program that was originally scheduled to be conducted by Daniele Gatti.

I cannot believe that this has happened yet again—and I cannot believe that the orchestra did not make some reasonable effort to inform its patrons of these significant changes. There’s a big difference between Gatti and Petrenko, and there’s a big difference between a Central European program and a Russian program. They are not interchangeable.

The Boston Symphony has become a bush-league organization, and is in desperate need of new management.

Of course, I had to call my parents and give them the bad news. One of the reasons my parents had planned a trip to Boston over Columbus Day Weekend was to hear Gatti in the Brahms-Hindemith-R. Strauss program.

Airfares have already been purchased. Concert tickets, theater tickets, ballet tickets have already been purchased. Plans have already been made.

“Not again? I can’t believe it!” were my father’s words into the telephone. “The orchestra might just as well announce appearances by Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer. That wouldn’t be any more fictitious than what the orchestra already announces.”

When top-line conductors walk away from Boston Symphony engagements over and over and over, that signifies that something is seriously wrong with the organization.

It also signifies—among other things—that top-line conductors have no respect for the orchestra, no respect for the organization, and no respect for the management.

And neither do I.

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