Author archive for leonard slatkin

  • JULY 2020: National Pastime Edition

    With the start of the baseball season only moments away, I thought it might be amusing to imagine what the play-by-play commentary might sound like:

    Welcome to beautiful Busch Stadium. It has been a long time coming, but here we are, on July 24, finally getting the Major League season started. The groundskeepers have done a great job getting the field ready, even with the hot and humid weather St. Louis has experienced these past few weeks.

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  • JULY 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 9

    As we move forward into July, it is becoming clear that we will pay a price for not listening. Right from the start of our isolation, my thoughts have been centered on what the musical world will be like when the time comes to start the regular orchestral season. I have been concerned about the ability of music directors and soloists to come to the States. Turns out that it is problematic the other way around as well.

    The EU has cracked down on its citizens entering the U.S.A. for fear of the virus being transmitted back to its own shores. Not surprisingly, given the aggressive reopening plans in some parts of the country and the lack of adherence to public health guidelines, we have experienced the highest spike in new cases of any country in the world. Some states, including New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, are now imposing a two-week quarantine on visitors from other states with large outbreaks.

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  • JULY 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 8

    Change is not easy. It is built on a foundation of pre-existing ideas that people deconstruct, rearrange, or reshape. For the short time that we have been a nation, America has tried to find the path to the future by looking back at the lessons of history.

    It is human nature to seek out stability and security, and to hold on to traditions. With the tragic consequences of the COVID epidemic, we are forced to tread carefully as we plot our return to that safe spot. We are staying conscious of the need to get back with an eye to the future. Perhaps we have been a little too conservative.

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  • JULY 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 7

    There is a lot of information. At the same time, too little information is available. We don’t know what to do with the information when we get it. Who is this information person anyway?

    During the continuing pandemic, I have found myself in very strange lands, navigating the etiquette of virtual meetings, chat rooms, and even phone conferences in which I sense this odd disconnect between those I am speaking with and me. The more of these events I do, familiarity breeds acquiescence to this new set of communication tools.

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  • What Happened to My City?

    Moving back to this city was supposed to be a return to the civility associated with the Midwest. St. Louis is the place where most of my happiest days have been spent. Sure, there have been troubling incidents in the past, and dangers continue to lurk as we grapple with the coronavirus.

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  • JULY 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 6

    Facing the facts is a rough business. Those of us in the arts are dreamers, always seeking to find what is next. But what if there is no next? We have come to an important crossroad during this pandemic that is forcing each of us to consider options that were at one time unthinkable.

    These actions will have consequences not only for us in the orchestra business, but also for musicians in every sector of the performing world. The possibility that our work, which has come to a standstill, might disappear altogether is slowly sinking in. Consequently, soul-searching and devising workable solutions are at the forefront of our thinking.

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  • JUNE 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 5

    In the 1980s there was a popular television show called The A-Team. The leader of the group, Hannibal—not Dr. Lecter—had a motto, heard on each episode: “I love it when a plan comes together.” One has to wonder what he said when it did not.

    As we reach the four-month mark of the viral wars in America, several strategies have taken shape for easing restrictions, with some succeeding and others being met with a surge in cases. The separation anxieties are subsiding in Europe as arts organizations experiment with socially distanced performances but meanwhile increasing in the States as uncertainty looms. Amid the continuing protests, calls for parts of history to be dismantled, and a justice system careening ever more out of control, the United States of America might as well drop the first word of the country’s name.

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  • JUNE 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 4

    The sound you have been hearing of late is that of shoes dropping. More than three months into the isolation from normalized civilization, a few things are becoming clear.

    We are a nation divided in a world that is more insular. Equality seems to be just a word, devoid of meaning for many. The great experiment called democracy is seeing itself torn apart, and we are barely hanging on to our constitutional rights. Our diverse musical culture is trying its best to be relevant, but at the same time, there is no way for artists to do what they do best: communicate in person.

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  • JUNE 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 3

    Perspective has a way of reshaping our priorities. For the past two weeks, we have witnessed events that either remind us of earlier times or, for the younger set, are unlike anything we have ever experienced. Now we can truly say “The Whole World Is Watching.”

    I remember 1968 very well. Although my heart and soul went into my studies, it was impossible to be immune to the scenes in Grant Park—and in major cities and college towns across the country—as Americans were reeling from the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy as well as the continuing conflict in Vietnam. Here we find ourselves once again, grappling with social and political unrest and physical acts of violence that are changing on a daily basis. This time, however, our war is not against an enemy in a faraway country, and we know why we are fighting.

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  • JUNE 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 2

    A little over a week ago, I wrote at length about what concert life might look like as we get to September and October, the start of the cultural season. I considered matters of orchestra size, social distancing among musicians and audience members, how to accommodate subscribers, and other pressing matters.

    In the short time between that article and this one, I have heard from a number of people in the profession, many of whom are trying to formulate similar thoughts and put a plan in place. My piece left out some factors that must be considered, each of them affecting the process of returning to the concert hall. Perhaps it might be easiest for me to address some of these issues by framing them in the form of questions:

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