When West Michigan Symphony Music Director Scott Speck visited Germany, he attended a free Bavarian State Opera performance. A crowd of at least 200,000 people greeted the orchestra musicians as though they were national heroes.
Such an enthusiastic and huge audience at a classical music event is linked to Germany’s cultural heritage, which includes a healthy concentration of musical organizations. It also helps that the country can boast a history of legendary composers, from Beethoven to Hans Zimmer.
“Orchestral music is so embedded in their culture that nobody could imagine a society without it,” Speck says.
Outside of Germany’s borders, many orchestras are struggling to create that same spark and loyalty within their own communities. Not all are in dire straits, but there is a growing concern among musicians, educators, administrators and patrons regarding the future of orchestras.