Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

GoDaddy UX Service Designer Zach Manzi writes about the reasons that led to his disillusionment with the classical music industry in the US on Medium this week.

“The problem I found was that as much as I loved music, the professional world of classical music was not giving me what I was looking for in a career.”

Manzi’s post has been doing the rounds. Some comments I’ve read have articulated a sadness about how his dissatisfaction with the industry led him to ultimately reject it. I concur. It’s a sad thing.

I read his analysis – perfectionism, high expectations, and arguably a less than effective marketing department at the orchestra he used to be a member of – as par for the course. Not inevitable for anyone in the classical music world you understand, rather just a fact of life for anyone embarking on the first steps in their professional life.

Manzi shares personal anecdotes of how his desire for innovation was dismissed by authority figures at conservatoire (only for his ideas to subsequently be made full use of). I’m reminded of two hard lessons I’ve learned over the years: there’s no copyright on ideas, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

But he’s wrong about there not being much experimentation or innovation in the sector (though I happily concur it may be different in the US). I look about me in the U.K. and see OAE Night Shift (still doing their thing in pubs), Aurora at Printworks, Bold Tendencies in Peckham, Fidelio Orchestra Cafe in London, and the Multi-Story Orchestra too. None of these endeavours were embarked upon because they were easy, they were pursued because they were hard.

There is too a sense that many performance organisations have a commitment to their existing audience. I enjoy a variety of experiences, but I’m mindful that the vast majority may not. If you’ve got a home crowd easy to satisfy why wouldn’t you seek to satisfy them first?

What I read in Zach’s post is a wholesale dissatisfaction with an industry extrapolated from personal anecdotes that spotlight ineffective professionals and the dubious values of education types who really could have been bolder and braver in their mentorship.

But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. And don’t burn bridges. We’ve all of us pursued a career path that later turned out to be a mistake. The strength comes in celebrating what each experience contributed to the whole. Be gracious. Show some humility. Recognise this is all a journey. Avoid blame.

I’m more interested in seeing how a few years of experience at GoDaddy helps develop Manzi’s vision and classical music format production in the future. Because businesses innovate because they attract a variety of experiences from a variety of sectors. Who’s to say that years of experience in digital service delivery won’t in the years to come benefit another industry, say like classical music?

And quite apart from anything else, just because I became disillusioned with arts management in the mid-90s and became an IT support engineer, or the brilliant bassoonist I used to book for gigs later became an airline pilot, or a brilliant Baroque violinist later became an artist and coach, doesn’t mean the classical music is doomed to failure.

It means that me and those people and plenty of others alike saw they had gone as far as they wanted to and wanted to achieve something else. Maybe we weren’t the right people in the right place at the right time. But we might be in the years to come. And it might even that there are some in the industry right now who absolutely are.

And as much as there seems to be a never-ending race to crown the next iconoclast, at least existing concert formats are in some parts of the world not only bringing pleasure to a certain demographic, but also keeping musicians in gainful employment.

This opinion reflects the views of its author Jon Jacob. It is not intended to attack, belittle or demean the originating author.

Twenty-four hours later

Yesterday I wrote about a disparaging article on The Critic about pianist Yuja Wang. Even for me in my world, the response was surprisingly noisy. My mentions timeline went a bit mad.

What took me by surprise was how the act of drawing attention to the piece in the first place and the follow-up, exposed things I hadn’t been prepared for. Insights you might even say.

Reflecting on what I read (and in some cases what I responded to) I noticed that there was a division between those who thought the action of highlighting what I saw and felt annoyed by was valuable, versus those who saw it as a foolish way of giving oxygen to someone who uses his writing to crave attention.

In one thread I saw someone saying that there wasn’t really very much point in calling it out because others had done so before and it hadn’t worked, so what was the point in doing so now?

One influential commenter described it as a ‘brouhaha’. Another sought to draw attention to the number of years and the regularity they had been writing about it, almost as though there was a sense they were disappointed they hadn’t seized on the opportunity themselves.

I was surprised (and still am) about how isolated I’ve ended up feeling as a result of it all. Odd, given that the intent was to highlight something that didn’t sit right, not just within the context of the music sector, but also in that of our wider cultural experience.

I’m still left wondering – what was the best course of action? To not draw attention to it, or to point to it? Did I in fact do the wrong thing? There was a time – when I first started working in digital – when the mantra for managing communities was that the community would eventually correct itself. Not so.

Is there something I regret? Yes. I should have done just a screengrab of the post that rattled me rather than linking to it. That was a bit of a fail on my part.  

But what I’m left with is something a little darker and perhaps even fundamental.

It’s not that people disagree. People should disagree. Or they can agree. I don’t mind what side of the fence you’re on. Not really That’s because where music-making has taught me discipline, the study of music has helped me learn the importance of considering a variety of different views, and a willingness to adapt your own views as a result.  

It’s not the content then of what people say (ie whether they agree or disagree). Nor necessarily the ‘how’ they communicate their content. Rather, what’s darker for me is the intent behind some people’s behaviours.

A real-life illustration will help here.

A few years ago I went to the Edinburgh Festival. I saw Mitsuko Uchida play at Usher Hall. It was the first time I’d ever heard her play live and it was an incredible experience. Throughout the concert I struggled to get comfortable. The rows of seats as I recall were narrow meaning I was from time to time moving around in my seat. This didn’t go down well with the man sat behind me who, at Uchida left the stage for the interview, using a pointed knuckle thumped me in the shoulder and whispered in my ear, “We sit still here. So should you.”

I picked up my bag and left the auditorium. I missed the second half.

Reflecting on it now, I see a connection. His action wasn’t the painful thing, it was the intent he brought to the interaction. I felt and ‘saw’ rage actively expressed in a physical act – a behaviour he clearly believed was appropriate and proportionate. I was shocked that someone (understandably irritated by me shifting around to get comfortable) would choose the intention to physically make a point.

Similarly, some of the comments from yesterday came with clear intent to condescend, belittle or patronise. It was the intent behind the act which I saw, not necessarily the content of what they were saying. This deflected from their message and their original starting point. Their motivations were louder than the meaning they were trying to convey.

There are I suspect many who will quietly have looked on yesterday as evidence of  me attention seeking. I’ve always experienced a certain level of shame whenever I’ve spoken my mind, though never quite so intently as I have today. It is a much deeper feeling of disappointment than I’ve experienced before. This of course overlooks those who recognised the intent I demonstrated and appreciated the resulting sentiment and overlooks their generosity of spirit.

But I’m left feeling oddly isolated, reminded again of how the digital space struggles in this day and age (far different from when I first started blogging in 2005) to accommodate a range of views because of vested interests and deep-set insecurities.

The reality is that because of the voices of the minority who I’d hoped would be ‘better’, I find myself less inclined to speak up in the future. And maybe even reticent to be quite so vocal advocating a musical genre that means so much to so many.

Classical music has at its heart a striking contradiction: voices who don’t manifest the joy themselves the art form brings about in its audience.

Stand up and call it out

Earlier this week, new London Chamber Orchestra managing director Jocelyn Lightfoot announced a new policy on dress code for players at the orchestra’s season opener in Cadogan Hall.

“Every musician who plays with LCO is hand-picked for their professionalism and skill. When our orchestra walks out on stage, we celebrate the individual personalities and backgrounds brought to the performance by those musicians. Each person is a unique and valued ingredient that contributes to a magnificent whole. 

A significant part of achieving this is removing the anonymity of a uniform or dress code. We encourage the musicians to reflect the culture they identify with and how they interpret the occasion for which they are performing. This will enable them to be free to perform authentically and enjoy the experience to the full.”

Extending the invitation beyond the platform, Jocelyn said, “We urge our audience to reciprocate. It is crucial that we mirror the community that joins us at our live events and the beautiful variety of people that includes.”

Making an active decision to adopt a different approach to what players and audiences wear is an interesting and unexpectedly invigorating idea. That LCO have seized on it naturally helps them in raising awareness of their individual brand. It’s very LCO too (which makes me like them even more).

But the announcement also reinforces an insight I’ve learned over the past couple of years thanks to the work of Chineke! for example: the first step towards greater inclusion, diversity and representation is to see it illustrated on stage.

It’s an announcement that will no doubt prompt ‘critic’ Norman Lebrecht to reach for his keyboard.

Just this week he’s rattled off more nonsense to add to his growing oeuvre, this time focussing his sights on pianist Yuja Wang and the outfits she chooses to wear in her concert appearances.

Lebrecht’s personal attack on Wang’s appearance hints at something a little more unsettling.

Maybe, I’m thinking, he doesn’t find her as annoying as he professes; maybe privately he has a bit of a thing for her. Maybe we should read instead his critique as the words of an ever-hopeful sugar daddy, a self-proclaimed arbiter of sartorial good taste. “If Yuja Wang were to strip everything right down to the music, I have a feeling she could be a sensation.” Or maybe as one commenter has responded, its an article outlining Lebrecht’s ever-reliable strength of holding the music business to account, a sector that apparently treats her as ‘tinsel’.

Pianist George Fu responded:

This woman has scaled the heights of her industry and is one of the best pianists in the world, and clearly, all she is missing is the opinion of a very mediocre man

Originally tweeted by George Xiaoyuan Fu (@eyepitydafu) on 28th October 2021.

What has been interesting over the past twelve hours at least is who has engaged with the tweet I put out last night (flagged by double bass player Leon Bosch over on Facebook late last night). There has undoubtedly been a groundswell (in terms of my account activity) which has been reassuring. But amongst most (though not all) my ‘usual circle’ of friends, fans, artists, colleagues and business contacts, a surprising lack of engagement. It is as though they don’t want to be seen to comment on the content of Lebrecht’s words.

And that got me thinking this afternoon. Why wouldn’t people stand shoulder to shoulder and call this stuff out. Why wouldn’t they amplify a key underlying message that those who have engaged have mostly coalesced around?

The answer might be that they don’t want to be seen to rock the boat.

If classical music has an image problem (I get that this isn’t necessarily a widely held view) then it is quite possibly down to the gatekeepers, commentators, or mediators – those who write and talk about it. The image of the sector is created by those who seek to retain convention and tradition, preserving the live classical music experience as a kind of museum piece. Added to that they communicate another requirement, something I’ve long denied to be the case but find it difficult to ignore now: knowledge is a pre-requisite, so too educational background. If you neither of those then membership of the club is denied. Criticising the way a woman dresses on stage (or a man for that matter – though I imagine you’ll rarely hear that) is the privilege bestowed on those who see it as though prime responsibility to preserve this tradition, increasingly projecting it as irrelevant.

The irony is that the classical music world like that of the wider arts, has embarked on a journey to increase inclusion, representation and diversity in its workforce and its output. It’s not been an easy ride nor is it a journey that is over. By not engaging with criticism of an obviously sexist, misogynistic and ageist piece of twaddle, those with the power to bring about change are not only condoning and legitimising the content of such a view but reinforcing the position the commentator in question has appointed himself to.

If you’re committed to opening up classical music then why on earth wouldn’t you stand up to the person who continues to pedal the stuff that makes your work even more necessary?

The answer, I fear is that the person in question has skilfully created a dependency. The classical music world thinks it needs these kind of commentators, far more than the commentators respect the world on which they commentate.

As long as that goes unchallenged, the longer the problem persists.

Is it ‘selfish’ to be unmasked at a classical concert?

In an opinion piece on Bachtrack Mark Pullinger says that “the government could – should – decree that audiences have to remain masked or, even better, that they have to prove vaccination status/ immunity/ negative test. But they won’t. They’re afraid of being seen as the “nanny state” and would prefer to devolve difficult decisions.”

Of audience’s responsibility he writes “don’t jeopardise the recovery through your own selfish behaviour. Test yourself on the day of a performance and… mask up!”

I’ve been to a range of concerts over the summer where different mitigations have been required, mandated or advised.

At the Proms in particular (you need only to look at the Last Night) the wearing of masks wasn’t consistent. Sometimes I wore mine, sometimes I didn’t. Quite how much more risk there is sitting amid a largely silent seated audience without a mask on I remain unconvinced about, nor the actual effectiveness of a mask anyway.

In Dubai, the experience at the InClassica festival was entirely (and even outside at the fountain display). Security and front of house staff were quick to tap you on the shoulder even mid-performance to remind you to apply your mask, even if it was slipping down your nose. This in an auditorium with restricted seat sales.

In Scotland, at Lammermuir the instruction was clear – masks on all the time for the distanced audience, plus staggered entry to the venue. The hotel I stayed in made a point of completely clearing down a table I absent-mindedly moved away from at breakfast because I wanted to sit someplace else, but told me not to worry about having forgotten to don my mask to enter the breakfast room. In Dubai at the chain hotel I stayed at, breakfast was a fairly laid back affair with distancing a thing of the past in the relatively cramped canteen – a stark contrast to the Downtown Dubai where zealous police kept a keen eye on everything.

These inconsistencies don’t bother me as perhaps they might do for Mark Pullinger at Bachtrack.

I recognise that the opening up of live events presents an opportunity to build new audiences, a chance for the existing audiences – the genres advocates – to bang a different drum, tell a different story and project a different image.

The Government has consistently utilised the Populist Playbook throughout the pandemic just as it is right now with the lorry driver shortage.

If you tell people not to do something they will do it. If they do it, then the Government can blame the population it told not to do something when tighter restrictions are subsequently deemed necessary. If the government doesn’t mandate mitigations then that plays to the Governments advantage in the future.

That’s called gaslighting.

But what results is the population or audience squabbling, finger-pointing and blaming one another. Turn the population on itself in order to deflect attention from a hopeless Government.

Which is why the line about indicating that non-mask wearers in the auditorium are somehow ‘selfish’ is unhelpful. Those are people who are exercising their right to choose based on their own judgment of risk.

The only thing that is achieved by pointing the finger at some members of the audience is establishing what the perceived classical music cognoscenti regard as the unwritten expectations of the audience. That’s a short step from a clique. And cliques are what some arts managers, audience members and commentators regard as one of classical music’s biggest challenges.

A Rookie Error

It appears that I have been rather foolish.

Not only have I fallen into the trap of being an incensed middle-aged white male barking online about a performer’s concert attire, but I’ve managed to pitch myself deftly and efficiently as a classical music fan who is part of the very problem classical music is trying to rid itself of.

And I’ve achieved this in a short series of Tweets posted shortly after I left the Albert Hall last night, before I reached South Kensington tube station (which was closed, by the way).

Last night’s Aurora Orchestra was something I was looking forward to following rave reviews of the band’s Saffron Hall ‘sister concert’.

What took me a little by surprise and subsequently drew my eye throughout the first work was Pavel Kolesnikov’s bright orange Nike trainers. Rarely has concert attire drawn my eye quite so much, triggered so much thought and reflection, and in so doing distracted me from the sole purpose of the event I was attending in the first place.

Pavel’s footwear was, I understand from incoming correspondence, a clear sign to reach out to younger audiences to make classical music appear more approachable. From my seat in the stalls it feld oddly contrived and a bit arch. It was a distraction.

Even writing that now … in.an.actual.blog.post … gives me the fear a bit. I can hear the shouts across the internet heading my way. I can see whatever reputation it is I have disappearing down a plug hole.

Maybe one of those correspondents was right when she asked whether I might consider deleting my Tweets.

But then again. Maybe she wasn’t. My comment wasn’t rude. It wasn’t offensive. I was hardly spreading misinformation about COVID or vaccines. I was just expressing an opinion in the moment. I think that’s still OK. We should all of us be able to do that.

There is for me a good reason why everyone on stage by and large wears all one colour (a uniform if you like) or a pallet of colours. It’s to reduce distraction. I’m not advocating penguin suits or dinner jackets, nor evening dresses (these always strike me as distinctly uncomfortable to wear at a point in time when performers need to be ‘freed-up’). But against a neutral backdrop of players on stage at a venue like the Royal Albert Hall say, it’s hardly surprising that the introduction of a bright pair of trainers is going to draw the eye – to the feet rather than the keyboard.

I can now see producers rubbing their hands together with glee, others rolling their eyes with derision. Those with a proven track record in passive aggression will also be looking at this and no doubt thinking, “Well we had to wait a long time but it paid off – he’s finally made an idiot of himself saying this. He really is part of the problem.”

What Aurora’s concert has highlighted to me is that I’m surprisingly and comfortably conventional and orthodox. I’m attuned to contrivance. And I’m reminded that I’m less inclined to think that appealing to a younger audience is best done through fashion choices.

I still hold that the music should speak for itself. It’s just music. Listening is all that’s required. That and a properly funded music education system that introduces music at primary school level. That would help a great deal.

Suzy Klein takes on role of Head of Arts and Classical Music TV in October 2021

News arrives at Thoroughly Good of the appointment of Suzy Klein as Head of Arts and Classical Music TV at the BBC.

BBC Radio 3, TV and Proms presenter Klein takes on her new role in October 2021.

Thoroughly Good can’t think of anyone better to take on the role. Suzy’s path has taken in a range of roles in TV and radio in production, direction and presentation. Her knowledge and experience is considerable and her authority and sincerity on air (and in real-life) makes the appointment as exciting as it is reassuring.

“If my appointment represents something,” said Suzy Klein in the BBC press release, “it is a long-term commitment to the transformative power, inspiration and joy that the arts bring. That’s something I can’t wait to share with my brilliant commissioning team, as we work together to create the most compelling, unmissable programmes for audiences across the UK.”

What I’m liking about the BBC Proms 2021

Radio still thrives, and television coverage has been afforded the opportunity to get some gratifying wide shots. But is the televisual refresh at the expense of available space for Prommers?

It is without doubt a joyous thing to have the Proms back. I’ve been attending for thirty years in one way or another. On that basis it’s assumed the status of an old friend. Always there, even if at times I didn’t always understand why it was doing what it was doing or saying. The fact is it’s here and it’s on snd that’s a relief. Seeing the interior of the Royal Albert Hall brings back memories which are in themselves part of my ongoing Proms experience. And that is much-appreciated. 

Seeing and hearing familiar faces and voices – Derham, Klein, Trelawny et al. – reinforces that feeling too. After a year of uncertainty, the restoration of something that has provided continuity real and perceived also gets a big tick from me. I suspect a global pandemic abs something being ‘taken away’ has the inevitable consequence of resetting priorities. 

There have been mildly painful observations that have at first brought about some unease. A Proms pal of old (who would normally be in attendance at the First Night drew attention to the barren arena. Usually packed with people, this year the space was bare. A closer look revealed a slightly different layout to what has over the years become a very middle-class kind of mosh-pit. The distance between the prommers and the stage has widened (so too the stage to accommodate the distanced orchestra). There seems to be a physical divider between the back row of the prommers and the rest of the arena. Behind which appears at a distance to be an empty space. In fairness its a little difficult to say with any certainty about the amount the floor has been reduced by, but I’m an edgy kind of chap. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this after all.

Does this appear that the insistence of proof of immunity or vaccination wasn’t enough to pull in the crowds for the First Night. Is that a sign of the times? Is it also a hint of future times too? When I thought about it, I was surprised how much I apparently needed to see the Prommers there. The jigsaw isn’t complete until they’re all there. 

The flip side is, I realised after an emergency meeting with myself, television’s advantage. A much deeper stage (and taking over part of the arena – hence the seemingly empty space) means that a boom can face the stage full-on, getting shots of the orchestra usually only possible from the side. This makes for TV’s equivalent of immersive shots, bringing the music alive and giving proceedings a refresh.

There’s an argument that says that had the global pandemic not happened, the management’s fear of those Prommers who cling on to convention like a barnacle stuck Peter Grimes fishing boat would have made a radical shifting of TV equipment a difficult change to implement.

What the change underlines is where the priorities should lie (something highlighted in numerous digital streams across the year), with the performance. What I sought to watch on Friday and Sunday wasn’t chit-chat (sorry Katie and Tom) but the music.

And broadcasters are only too aware that what they’re competing with is on-demand music streaming. In the run-up to its centenary year, it makes perfect sense for the BBC to be prioritising the capturing of performance. That’s where it can create the most value from its core content now and in the future. Those interstitial moments are (I’m sorry again Katie and Tom) the stuff that will end up edited out.

Radio still thrives. I heard Petroc Trelawny’s interval feature with a Hollywood musical expert either recorded as live with audience ambiance underneath or done actually live. If the latter then it was invigorating live broadcasting. A reminder that radio triggers the imagination in a way that TV relays (deferred or otherwise) often crush.

The overriding question for me is whether this signals the gradual decline of the Prommers arena space. At some point, the stage will return to its normal size, won’t it? I can’t see TV producers nodding to management in the future and saying ‘Yeah OK, we’ll go back to what we were doing’. TV isn’t generally like that. So, given that the Prom tickets aren’t exactly a massive revenue driver (say a maximum of 500 people at £6 each), is the Promming area even worth the hassle? Has COVID given an opportunity to usher in a big change, or at least begin the transition?

The answer to that is to know whether whether the BBC would be happy to ditch one of the defining characteristics of a Proms performance in a a flagship global product during its centenary year next year. I hope not. 

Wigmore Hall announce new season for September and October 2021

Wigmore Hall has done great work over the past fifteen months. A slew of live streams on YouTube, with calls to its highly engaged real-life audience, subscriber base, and digital network have seen chief executive John Gilhooly’s considerable eye for PR pay dividends for the Wigmore brand. The chamber music venue has enhanced its reputation by positioning itself as a voice for the audience, and a vociferous advocate for musicians, and the arts.

It’s also assumed a bellwether role, illustrating how live (unamplified) music and comparatively intimate performing arts events now have to think and operate.

In that respect Wigmore Hall’s 40-page brochure released yesterday after a live-streamed season launch with Gilhooly and Clive Myrie is a punchy piece of PR. There are thirty pages of events committed for September to October 2021 (it’s easier to navigate the PDF than the events page).

But beyond the end of October is a statement of intent. A preview. Nothing more.

It’s the same approach the BBC Proms took at launch. But what’s different here is how the word ‘preview’ establishes jeopardy. I don’t believe for a moment that Wigmore Hall don’t already know what the details are for their November and December concerts for example. But I do think there’s a gain to be made by witholding that information, assuming there isn’t already a fairly good hunch been had about what’s going to happen when winter comes.

At the time of writing this I’m tussling whether that’s a sign of a hunch or information known which can’t publically be shared. Because if there’s one thing I’ve come to appreciate far more keenly over the past year it’s that a great many more people have advance warning of what’s going to be likely and what isn’t.

Why Presto Music works

News today that Presto Music, the online and in-store classical music distribution hub saw an 18% increase in its business growth in the past twelve months is good to hear.

The news prompts a few Thoroughly Good Hunches.

First, its evidence of an engaged customer base remaining true, presumably, to its preference for physical products (ie CDs, books snd sheet music) and motivated by a desire to see artists get more of the money from sales that they deserve.

Second, it perhaps reflects the classical music fans desire for authoritative reliable destinations. As a digital user experience Presto’s is consistent and reliable. That reinforces the brand name as a destination when in search of recordings (even if you’re not purchasing something I find it a wholly reliable research tool).

Most interestingly is its content strategy. Presto clearly recognises the value originated marketing content (interviews, articles and reviews) has on the way its brand is perceived. That core content drives traffic, improves ranking, and contributes to conversion. It achieves all of that whilst ensuring its language is clear too with a tone of voice that lacks pretension.

And, in a relatively crowded digital space where streaming platforms, radio stations, and even some ensembles compete for attention, Presto Music stands apart with a product that not only works, but does so without getting itself tied up in knots.

I’d be interested to drill down into the data to see what the take-up has been for its streaming app (digital purchases are stored in the cloud and accessible via the app), to gain a deeper understanding of how that development contributed to its 18% growth during the pandemic. Regardless, news of Presto’s success makes me warm to the brand even more. It also gives a pat on the back for the music sector as a whole – the audience is there and they’re hungry. Long may that success continue.

Liverpool says goodbye to Vasily Petrenko

It’s all too easy to read stuff online and lose sight of geographical differences across the UK. Not so with anything inspired by or reflective of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra who last week said goodbye to their Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko.

An op-ed by Head of UNESCO City of Music, Kevin McManus in the Liverpool Express explicitly highlights the impact Petrenko has on the orchestra and the city too.

“As well as being a giant of the conducting world Vasily is also a hugely charismatic individual and has served as a brilliant ambassador not just for the Phil but for the city itself. He has taken the city to his heart, embraced its people, moved his family here and most significant of all he has shown his incredible taste by becoming a loyal supporter of LFC. Importantly he takes this love for the city with him wherever he is working and having such a prominent and respected figure acting as an advocate for the city is priceless.”

What I especially like about the piece is how unusual it is to see someone in an official capacity talk so passionately about an orchestra, illustrating just how important an orchestra can be to a local community.

That’s always been evident in the communications surrounding the RLPO over the past 10-15 years – a statement not only on how the organisation understands the relationship it has with its local audience, but also a measure of its pride in sharing that with a wider audience beyond Liverpool.

Some of the larger orchestras could do more of that. It’s an easy win to tell the story of how their activities underpin civic pride. It’s also a different story too, one that draws on authenticity.

Discover Thoroughly Good Recordings made by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, and Vasily Petrenko.