Friday, June 16, 2006

An open letter to Fred Bronstein: Why I didn’t renew my Dallas Symphony Orchestra season tickets

First, I was in the audience at the particular concert in the 2004-05 season when you announced special anniversary events would be a major part of the 2005-06 calendar.

An avid listener to a variety of 20th-century music, my mind first thought of the Shostakovich centennial, since he was born in 1906.

Rather, you were talking about the Mozart 250th birth anniversary.

Now, people who don’t know any classical music recognize Mozart, I guess, kind of like the tone-deaf Ulysses S. Grant who said he recognized two tunes: “One of them is Yankee Doodle and the other isn’t.”

I thought I would hold onto hope for 2006-07, that you would do a centennial observance for Shostakovich then. (And a centennial, bicentennial, tricentennial trumps any half-centennial in my book anyway.)

No such luck.

That was reason alone to not renew after five years, especially when I e-mailed you and somebody on your staff spit out a defensive pile of mush response.

Second, the playlist has gotten more conservative over the years. Dallas is musically conservative, but not that musically conservative, in my opinion. Besides, isn’t part of the job of a music director, and by extension, a symphony executive, to educate and enlighten the public about music, including if it’s ignorant of some aspects of modern music?

Third, the playlist has also gotten repetitive. Multiple playings of the Mussorgsky/Ravel, the Brahms First, etc., when a post-1918 Stravinsky symphony, or one by Myaskovsky, or one by Hindemith, let alone one by Honegger or Ernst Krenek, can’t get played. You won’t even play the “tunal” (not tonal in a traditional sense, but “tunal”), and even pop-ish Alan Hovhaness, for Pete’s sake.

Fourth, although I’m not an Andrew Litton fan (the man, no matter what he thinks of himself, butchers Mahler more than he gets him right), the final months before his departure were poorly handled, and deliberately so on your part, I would be inclined to believe.

Don’t expect me back unless I see clear evidence of change.

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