Competition lifts all boats. Or something like that.
Whatever the cliche, it’s great news that a new orchestra is launching in this region of moneyed and well-educated consumers. The D.C. Philharmonic will make its home at the lovely Music Center at Strathmore and will perform under the direction of 30-year-old John Baltimore.
Of his group’s prospects, Baltimore had this to say to the Washington Post‘s Anne Midgette:
“You just don’t find this level of educated upper-middle-class African American income anywhere else in the United States. I am an African American myself. I believe wholeheartedly that Washington in particular has this unique demographic of educated, upper-class, recession-proof government wage-earners that, if this music was marketed to them and they could see that this music is for them, they would be supportive of it.”
It’s great to have young, talented dreamers making things happening out there. I can’t wait to hear this particular philharmonic and see if it attracts this “unique demographic.” I have my doubts, however, about Baltimore’s characterization of the region’s economy. These days, this area is looking about as recession proof as Wall Street. Really—-banks, retailers, media companies are all getting killed around here.
The Phil’s debut performance takes place on April 9 and 10 at Strathmore and includes Michael Torke‘s Bright Blue Music, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection.” That’s a nice lineup, and certainly a break from the usual warhorse parade of Mozart–Beethoven–Rachmaninoff–Whathaveyou .
Whether Baltimore’s target demographic will see that this “music is for them” remains to be seen. He’s not the first to tinker with various marketing, program shuffling, and branding strategies in order to make a Washington orchestra thrive. Certainly he’ll need to upgrade his Web site before the Phil will truly thrill.
But the biggest mistake Baltimore has made to date is skedding his orchestra’s first performance after the publication of Washington City Paper‘s second Best-Of issue (March 27), which will take a close look at a couple of other area symphony orchestras.