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As the Calgary Philharmonic faces financial ruin,
GORDON RUMSON asks some difficult questions


The Calgary Philharmonic has closed its doors facing financial ruin. There are many other orchestras labouring under heavy debt loads, poor subscription sales and skyrocketing costs. I am not prepared to ring the death knell of the orchestra even at this time, but things don't look good.

But I do want to suggest that there are several significant issues that might bear upon the fate of the orchestra and of many other similar classical music organizations around the world.

The complaint that subscribers are just not returning to the seats is the primary concern. There is also the problem of government cutbacks in funding and a decrease in corporate sponsorship and charitable donations. I believe that these are crucial issues and I do not want to reduce their importance. But since I am not a businessman there are others better able to discuss these issues.

Instead I would rather focus upon that for which I am qualified to speak: music.

Quite simply I would ask are the people not coming back because it's boring?

I could say that there's just too much good TV to watch -- and there is. Filled with dramatic stories of rape, pillage, warfare, murder, sex and mayhem along with excellent comedic dialogue how can anything compete? How can classical music compete?

But actually, without wishing to discuss whether TV is more interesting I will say that people don't go to concerts because classical music is often boring. And please allow me to elaborate.

There are several areas where boredom is a problem : first in the performers and second in the expectations of the audiences.

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Copyright © 27 December 2002 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada


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