Innovation: Risks and Rewards
February 10, 2020 In: Sound Bits
At the core of the Paul R. Judy Center for Innovation and Research is a focus on the 21st Century evolution of the innovative ensemble, with a focus on creative, artist-centered ensembles that reflect new models of artistic innovation, organizational relationships, and operational sustainability. This mission requires us to continually reflect on the meaning, purpose, and impact of innovation.
Enter Anthony Tommasini, Chief Classical Music Critic for the New York Times, and Randel Cole, a New York Philharmonic subscriber and NY Times reader. In the December 9, 2019 Ask A Critic feature in the NY Times titled Is ‘Playing it Safe’ Bad for Classical Music?, Tommasini shares a colorful exchange between Cole and himself. Cole took issue with Tommasini’s assessment that New York Philharmonic and its guest conductor, Philippe Jordan, had ‘played it safe’ with their November 2019 programming of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 and other classics. Cole argued that the needs and aesthetics of the ‘listening public’ were different than that of music critics and that ‘playing it safe’ might be what he and other audience members want to hear. In his response, Tommasini reminded Cole that Symphony no. 7 was in-fact ‘cutting edge’ when it was composed, and that we should embrace contemporary classical music in the same we we embrace other contemporary art. While the two showed mutual respect and empathy towards each other’s arguments, the divergent viewpoints remained.
In many regards, the fact that this concert, and its programming, encouraged the exchange to occur could point to the success of the programming. It also highlights the responsibility and opportunity that comes with “innovative” programming. What responsibility do 21st century ensembles have to both develop the aesthetics of their audiences and educate them? How do we meet the needs of our audiences while at the same time expanding their artistic bandwidth? Navigating this responsibility to advance our chosen art-form while also cultivating compelling programming that is engaging to our audiences could be viewed as the art of programming.
Read the original NY Times Article here: