Tallahassee (FL) Symphony Orchestra Music Director David Hoose announced recently that the 2004-2005 season will be his last with the Orchestra. In a "letter" printed in the program booklet for the first concert, he made some points that I think are important to share. These are posted here with his permission, and given without comment:

The biggest threat to the TSO is the one that is visiting every orchestra: whither goeth classical music? Its marginalization by a population that wants much more instant and tangible gratification should be a worry to us all, for the rapid shift that is speeding through our culture affects not just this area of music, but the fundamental quality of our lives. More and more, an embrace of reflection, subtlety, and complexity is being replaced by an addiction to visceral excitement, quick satisfaction, and simple-mindedness. We should be troubled. Serious music may be one of the first victims, for it undoubtedly demands much of us, but its illness should at the least serve as the parakeet in the mine warning us of danger. Our society is at stake. And, if I am right, so are our

. . .

. . . there are concerns that specifically affect the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, ones I hope the leaders will ask in the years to come. Among them are:

How committed is this city to having the highest quality orchestra that it could have? What would be required to develop such?

How does a community that cannot claim wealthy, old businesses that see their own future tied to the cultural health of the community, acquire the means to thrive?

Does the community want a paid-community or a professional orchestra? What are the differences, and what are the benefits of each?

Whom does the orchestra serve? The conductor? The players? The audience? The community at large? In what ways might these interests be incompatible, and how might conflicts be

Readers, how are these issues apparent in your communities? Are there others? Are there art forms thriving in your communities and others that suffer? The comments section is for you. A blog without a comments section is like art without an audience.


  1. Anonymous1:35 PM

    I'm not sure whether he'd remember me, but I played flute in the Brandeis University orchestra in the late 1970s when David Hoose was the conductor. His questions are interesting and important. I probably ought to look up the whole letter; what I find curious is that he did not ask whether the symphony serves the needs of the composer. But it's probable that the Tallahassee SO doesn't commission many new works, if any. I'm also curious about their repertory and how many recent/20th c. works it includes.

    I see from his bios in various places that David is primarily active in the Boston area. I would think that the musical culture of Tallahassee is very, very different from that of Boston, where there is a huge and thriving music scene, including everything from symphonic to choral to new music, unless things have changed for the worse since I left.

  2. The TSO plays a lot of 20th century music, considering the size of the city and the number of concerts per season (four). No "hardcore" modernism, of course, but the Orchestra played a John Harbison Symphony last year, for example.

    They have never, to my knowledge, commissioned a new work .