This just in: March 15, 2007

From Duh Land of Texas

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra recently announced that some of its concerts in the Friday Series of the Season 2007-2008 would be shortened by dropping movements from major symphonic works that are apparently too long for the attention span of the average FWSO concertgoer. There followed such an outcry from the orchestra’s regular supporters that orchestra president Ann Koonsman, music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya, director of artistic administration Matthew Spivey and director of marketing David Hadlock had to do some back-pedaling fast and furiously.

So then they decided to shorten the concerts to no more than one hour and fifteen minutes in length. Intermissions will be gone, and so will – at the rate of one per concert – Schuman’s Spring Symphony, Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn and Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.

Orchestra president Ann Koonsman said in an interview with a Forth Worth newspaper “When we really started looking at our timing, we realized that we can do the full shebang. We are going to run all of the Symphonic Series concerts at a length of 75 minutes. But on Friday they will run without intermission. That gives us time for a stage change, to roll the piano out, for Miguel (music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya) to make comments.

Orchestras are using earlier and shorter concerts to attract new audiences. That’s all well and good. But, does this perhaps portend another tactic of dumbing down the art to put bottoms on seats?


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