Alsop and the BSO III (July 26, 2005)
Alsop After All... (July 19, 2005)
Marin Alsop in Baltimore... or Not? (July 18, 2005)
Sizing Up Strathmore (February 23, 2005)
Hilary Hahn at Strathmore [with the BSO] (February 21, 2005)
Faced with a deficit at home and unable to sell tickets for an ambitious new schedule in Montgomery County, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has cut back on this year's season at the Music Center at Strathmore. The orchestra began contacting ticket buyers last week about the scrubbed events, including a series of three Saturday family concerts; two performances of Handel's holiday favorite, "Messiah"; a midday chamber orchestra program; several educational concerts; and a "Soulful Symphony" concert aimed at African American audiences. The orchestra's decision, reported yesterday in the Baltimore Business Journal, means scaling back to 42 events at Strathmore from a projected 53, with most of the cuts coming in educational and community oriented concerts.The fault, according to Mael, lies with the Washington area audience. After booming attendance numbers initially, the BSO's Strathmore sales have dropped off dramatically, and projected sales for the rest of this season look equally bad. Tim Smith's article (BSO cancels some concerts, November 9) for the Baltimore Sun was published today. I notice with some glee that Messiah is one of the events expected to underperform. All musicians know that this work, as excellent as it is, is overprogrammed to an outrageous degree. I am happy to see that the market is going to correct that bias.
"Nobody is happy about this outcome," said Michael Mael, vice president for the BSO's operation at Strathmore. "In a perfect world, we would have done this before the concerts were announced."
My sense is that the BSO was overconfident in programming so many concerts at Strathmore this season. With an overall budget deficit, estimated to be not insubstantial, this is surely a smart move to cut back a little on expenses. Parents in the Maryland suburbs are the ones who lose out, since most of the concerts lost are for kids. However, not enough parents were apparently planning to go to them anyway. Suburban parents, if you do not take advantage of these things, they will go away. Mini-Critic is a city kid: we go to the Kennedy Center.