It is stated in the by-laws of most orchestras that their mission includes that of educating the public. At least for CCO, we believe that educational effort should not be to force exposure of the audience to inaccessible contemporary works, but to surprise the spouse who gets "dragged" to a CCO concert by a "significant-other" and finds that he or she actually enjoyed the experience and wants to return. "I've decided that I just don't understand classical music." is a comment heard surprisingly often from audience members who have stopped attending concerts. Such a comment is evidence of an orchestra's failure to connect with its audience. We believe that it is a fundamental requirement of good music to communicate an understanding, not of the complexities of music, but of a satisfying sense of beauty that encourages them to keep wanting to hear more.
The article titled "Requiem-Classical music in America is dead." by Mark Vanhoenacker, which appeared in the January 21, 2014 issue of the online magazine, Slate, paints a very dark picture of the present state of classical music in America. One can take issue with his opinions but it's difficult to argue with many of the facts upon which the article is based. It is our view that community orchestras are important not only because they provide an important source of education and entertainment to the community but because they serve as the true incubators of support for classical music as a whole. It is people like ourselves who, when they get the chance to actually make music in a sympathetic ensemble, find the experience so enjoyable that they encourage their children and others around them to become the musicians who form the core of the future support for classical music.
The Founders' Vision
Our vision of an ideal community orchestra is first of all one which :
performs music that we enjoy playing
performs at a high level of quality
is recognized and appreciated by the community
does not burden us with an excessive load of non-musical work.
We believe that an orchestra founded by member musicians in order to create a playing opportunity, should be under the musical direction of its members. Experience in playing with other orchestras has convinced us that when a generally compatible group is presented with a program of music that is within their grasp technically and directed by a skilled, talented, and compassionate conductor, the results can often exceed expectations. In addition it becomes easier to enlist the services of exceptionally qualified players who further enhance the ensemble.
Our views about the choice of material to be programmed are rather broadminded. We have started by founding a chamber orchestra and recognize that there is a wealth of material from the Classical period which is very well suited to a small orchestra. We very much enjoy these works and want to include them in our programming but prefer not to become "type-cast." We also enjoy a broad variety of classical music in eras from the Baroque to the Contemporary, and genres including jazz, film, show, and others. Nevertheless we strongly believe in the need for the majority of the membership to concur with and have a voice in the programming. We are perfectly comfortable with deferring to the majority on programming.
Regardless of its type designation, our preference is that the music should be "good" where we define goodness as accepted by audiences over an extended period of time. By this definition, good music of the past is easy to recognize. It is that which is repeatedly programmed and/or played and the more it is repeated, the better we perceive it to be to the point where we can describe some music as being "great". In any case good music is the music people are willing to pay to hear. We believe the difficulty is not in identifying good music of the past. It is in identifying that recently composed music which will become the good music of the future. We prefer to err on the side of conservatism when trying to identify such music and to perform only that which we feel confident is sufficiently accessible to be immediately appealing to our audiences.