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Swan Song or Song and Dance?
Perspectives from a Composer and an Artistic Director
Part II

As we continue our series on struggling classical ensembles, is checking in with leading figures in the classical world to get their thoughts on the state of the arts. This week we have views on the state of classical music performance from Bechara El-Khoury, French-Lebanese composer and poet and a semi-finalist for this year's Masterprize, and from Frank Dodge, Artistic Director for Spectrum Concerts Berlin.

Bechara El-Khoury
Leading contemporary composer and poet, Masterprize semifinalist and winner of the 2000 Prix Rossini of the Academie des Beau-Arts (Institut de France)

There is a big problem with the lack of renewal of the orchestral repertoire, and therefore, the public gets scanter and scanter. But there is hope--since contemporary music is opened to all tendencies, it will attract a new public. Furthermore, there is an untapped repertoire dating back to the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, such as works by Zemlinsky, Korngold, Schulhoff, and Schreker. This music was ignored during the Nazi period and rediscovered by a few courageous orchestras such as the American Symphony and a few others. The audience is thus able to discover truly magnificent music.

Another problem for the management of orchestras is the cost of a number of world famous interpreters who should be advised to diminish their fees so that the tickets to their performances would be less costly. Indeed, buying a CD or going to a concert should not be considered as a luxury reserved to a few privileged people.

About the operas: the problem is that one now speaks more about the setting and the costumes than the music. I believe that the stress should be put more on the music rather than the accessories.

Finally, it is a necessity to increase free concerts for young people and also to mix within the orchestras young musicians with the more experienced ones. The State should have a larger allocation for culture . . . it has a large budget for everything, why not the arts? With the money devoted to the purchase of 3 cannons and 1 military airplane, the State could save from financial disaster at least one opera and 3 orchestras.

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