Holly Mulcahy wrote an interesting blog post for the Partial Observer recently considering how much is really saved when, for budgetary reasons, a “heavy” piece like Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 is swapped out for a “light” piece like a Mozart Symphony. She writes:
For example, if Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 programmed is later replaced with a Beethoven or Mozart Symphony due to budget reasons, there should be questions as to how much is really saved. Is the audience comfortable with this? Imagine what would happen if a similar situation unfolded at a restaurant: “Sorry, we are out of the Filet Mignon but we are happy to present you with the Caesar salad instead. Same price, sorry.”
Maybe this will be the best Caesar salad you’ll ever eat. But while the entrée price hasn’t changed, and the appetite may have wanted more, there must be sacrifices…right?
Interesting food for thought–read Holly’s complete post here:
Financial meltdown or no, I rarely perform the “heavy” works like Mahler 5 at all anymore. Most of the groups I play with can’t afford to put a piece like this on their program; adding the extra 15-20 wind players and augmenting the string section accordingly stretches the budgets of many smaller groups to unacceptable extremes. As such, I usually end up doing a whole lot of Beethoven and Brahms and very little Mahler, Bruckner, or large-scale Strauss pieces (Apline Symphony, for example).
I guess I never realized that I’d be bidding farewell to these more massive pieces after I left music school and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Not only did the scope of the pieces shrink in terms of scale, but I’ve found that the repertoire of the groups that I play with is quite conservative. I miss taking musical chances with groups like the IRIS Orchestra and now roll my eyes at yet another Beethoven Symphony No. 8 or Candide Overture (not that his isn’t great music, but doing these pieces every single year starts to grate on me).