Philosophies, goals and challenges of selecting repertoire for the collegiate and professional orchestra
What does an orchestra’s choice of music say about our culture’s current artistic environment? Does the orchestra’s repertoire reflect its own stated musical philosophies and goals? To what extent do non-musical factors influence artistic decisions? To what extent do conductors feel a sense of obligation to develop and/or shape their audience’s artistic consciousness? The goal of this project is to speak with conductors of collegiate and professional orchestras to ask questions about their choice of repertoire. The issues involved in music selection are varied and complex, and there are numerous musical and non-musical factors that influence a given conductor’s decision. The project will attempt to identify programming trends in collegiate and professional orchestral repertoire, with specific attention to the types of pieces performed and the time period in which they were composed. Further inquiry will be made into conductors’ perceived responsibilities toward composers, audiences and musicians with regard to repertoire selection. Through the series of interviews, an effort will be made to recognize those philosophies, goals and challenges common to particular conductors or orchestras, whether collegiate or professional. Each new orchestral season brings with it a published list of that year’s repertoire. A cursory study of repertoire lists from around the country indicates some commonality in programming trends. It remains to be seen whether this commonality corresponds to a similar unity of purpose among conductors, or whether such commonality of repertoire is due to largely non-musical factors affecting various orchestras in similar ways. Those responsible for making decisions regarding repertoire selection are impacted by a large number of issues. Artistic philosophies and goals are often circumvented by external challenges. University conductors face challenges which must be presumed different from those of professional conductors, and vice-versa, though no extensive study has been made on this assumption. The lack of such study on repertoire selection is an opportunity to further explore the motivations behind decisions which are, on the surface, artistically motivated, yet which, upon further investigation, may be critically affected by non-artistic factors.