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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Keep Calm and Blog On

On Shutdowns, Closures, Crises and Coping: 
Some words from the Superconductor editorial desk.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Just do what the sign says. Photoshop by the author.
It's been a tumultuous week for the classical music business. The New York City Opera shut its doors after seventy years of operations. The opening night of Carnegie Hall (with the Philadelphia Orchestra and violinist Joshua Bell) was kyboshed by an 11th hour strike by the stagehands' Local One. Finally, the Minnesota Orchestra continuing its year-long self-asphyxiation by lockout. The latest blow: the resignation of Osmo Vänskä from the post of Music Director following the Orchestra's withdrawal from its planned November concerts at Carnegie Hall.

With those three stories leading the news cycle in classical music, it's easy to feel depressed, and to start even questioning the purpose of a publication like this one, especially as the rest of the evening news is filled with the ongoing government shutdown engineered by John Boehner and the more extremist members of the Republican party currently seated in Congress.

In fact, I can't remember feeling this depressed since last year, when Hurricane Sandy assaulted New York City (bringing everything including the music season to a temporary halt) or November of 2011, when the City of New York casually destroyed the encampment of Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park.

So what is a journalist-music critic-blogger to do in the face of such overwhelmingly awful news? The answer: offer to one's readers some encouraging words. Superconductor remains committed to covering the best (and sometimes the worst) in the world of classical music and opera.

And despite what you've been reading, the music community helps each other in times of crisis. Last year, Lincoln Center threw open the doors of Avery Fisher Hall to allow the then shut-down Carnegie Hall to mount a piano recital featuring Bronx native Murray Perahia. Last night, the Philadelphia Orchestra responded to the Carnegie Hall strike by giving a free concert in the Kimmel Center for its hometown audience.

We have an exciting Fall season ahead. The Carnegie Hall situation will resolve itself (recent reports indicate that negotiations are in progress) and we will either cover events at that historic institution or write about new and exciting things happening elsewhere. (Tonight I'm actually scheduled to go to Carnegie to hear the American Symphony Orchestra--and in an update that concert will proceed as planned. One for our side.)

Yes, Carnegie Hall is an important institution, but alternatives are being considered as this is written. We'll still cover the New York Philharmonic (tomorrow night!) the Metropolitan Opera (when we have time to stand on the Rush Line!) and events around New York and in cities like Newark, Boston, Philadelphia and yes, even Washington D.C. I'm going to Chicago next month for two performances.

If all else fails, we'll do what we do in an emergency, write reviews of the back-log of CDs and DVDs currently causing the IKEA shelves in Superconductor World Headquarters (my Brooklyn apartment) to groan under the weight of press-distributed media. Right now, my CD player (yes I'm old-fashioned like that) is whirring through the cello passage in the new Marek Janowski recording of Die Walküre and I'll bet you're excited to learn what I think of it.

I know I am.

Thanks for being here and thanks for reading Superconductor.

Paul J. Pelkonen
Editor, Superconductor.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats