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Classical Music in 2009: A Few Thoughts

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The Ring Cycle was a big deal. Still is. LA had a few bumps along the way, but the future remains bright (check out a few LA Times articles here on what to look forward to in 2010. The same can't be said for much of the US though. Why? Timing. In recent years, the opening of a world class hall (the Disney Hall), the investment in new music (Green Umbrella), the rise of a top notch conservatory (Colburn) and the drawing power of a prestigious competition (Iturbi) have helped to propel Los Angeles into the forefront of the Classical music scene. The 2009 season was relatively successful due to a few key players.

Attendance is down all across the country, and the departure of Salonen and the hoopla surrounding the arrival of Dudamel helped bring in new audiences. The Ring cycle was relatively successful and controversy free (even with Freyer involved). Protests from at least one ignorant politician went ignored.

A few orchestras have folded and filed for bankruptcy (the Honolulu Symphony) or have made huge budget cuts (the Cleveland Symphony). The New York Phil bid adieu to Lorin Maazel and brought in Alan Gilbert to lackluster reviews. In LA, LACO had a chance to celebrate their 40th anniversary and the Thornton school celebrated their 125th anniversary.

Placido Domingo had a good year as well. Besides holding a spot in the Billboard top 100 with his latest CD, he has made some powerful mainstream friends on behalf of the LA Opera (Pau Gasol, VIllaraigosa). He celebrated his 40th anniversary of his debut with the Met with a performance in Adriana Lecouvreur.

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