<< -- 3 -- Greg Barns COUNTRY MUSIC?
By recording with the Naxos label the Nashville Symphony is ensuring its name and sound are heard around the globe. This label, established in the late 1980s by Klaus Heymann, who formerly lived in Sydney Australia, and now spends much of his time in New Zealand, is expanding when its bigger competitors are in perpetual decline. Last year the respected BBC Music Magazine in the UK reported that 43 percent of its readers name Naxos as the CD label they most frequently purchase.
The beauty of the Naxos label for orchestras such as the Nashville Symphony is the world wide distribution network. Most CD retail outlets around Europe, North America, the UK and Australia have a section solely devoted to Naxos releases. It's much easier to buy the Nashville Symphony in Hobart, Tasmania because it records with Naxos than if it recorded with other more established labels. And what's more, a consumer will buy Elliott Carter and the Nashville Orchestra without blinking at under $10 but would think twice about it at $30 -- the price of most other classical recording labels.
By increasing its exposure outside the US through the combination of linking with Naxos and recording new or relatively unheard music, the Nashville Orchestra is building its repeat business scenario. This is what, for example, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has been able to do over the past decade through its association with Naxos and recordings of twentieth century composers such as the German Paul Hindemith.
But it's not only the heightened awareness of Nashville's fine ensemble that emerges from the Naxos/Carter recording. It's also the broader positioning of the city. Nashville's musical reputation has been built on its place as the home of the ever popular country music idiom. Mention Nashville to most Australians and they would answer, 'country music'.
The capacity for cultural institutions such as orchestras to help add economic and cultural dimensions to a city or regions is well known. The Spanish town of Bilbao, previously just another town of 500,000 in southern Europe, is now firmly on the cultural and business map because of the Guggenheim Museum opened there in 1997.
The Nashville Orchestra's foray this year into championing twentieth century American music, coupled with its link to Naxos, is providing an ideal opportunity for it to showcase a different side of Nashville's creative output. It's a strategy for other orchestras struggling for funds and audiences to follow.