As many of you know, the Milwaukee Symphony needed to raise a boatload of new money in order to make it through the winter, much less the rest of our season. Contrary to the expectations of many, both within and without the organization, the $5 million campaign succeeded.
This is a very significant story for our industry, especially given some of the bad news of the past year – the Twin Lockouts, the troubles in Memphis, the continuing drumbeat of stories that Classical Music Is Dead. Both the fact that Milwaukee succeeded in doing something almost unprecedented, and how we did so, should be of deep interest to our business and to those who care at all about it. But, unlike the recent saga of the Great Strad Robbery, interest in this story appears exclusively local – even the blogs that cover our industry have ignored it.
This absence of coverage says a lot about the news business, none of it good. But the most important lesson is for those who care about orchestras, and it’s this: most of what you read about orchestras is crap. At the very best, it’s one-sided – bad news is sexier than good news, and weird news is more interesting than important news.
So the next time you read about orchestras being doomed, or classical music being dead, or, in fact, pretty much anything that the media might cover – remember than those who cover the news have a very, very deep bias. And, unless you just bit a dog, it’s not one in favor of covering what really matters.