The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Berlin Philharmonic symphony orchestra and Simon Rattle to play in Ann Arbor; why not in Madison?

November 15, 2009

By Jacob Stockinger

Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic are coming pretty  close to Madison this week. Rattleplayers

They will perform in Chicago and, on Tuesday night, in Ann Arbor, Mich., as part of a seven-stop U.S. tour that includes New York, Boston, Los Angeles and  San Francisco.

The tour comes as a coincidence, no doubt a planned coincidence, with two other factors.

One is that Rattle has just been renewed as the Berliners’ director though 2018 (he started in 2002 when he picked up the baton from the legendary Claudio Abbado). That renewal comes despite rumors of tensions between him and both the players and BPO management.Rattle2

The tour program includes two Brahms symphonies (nos. 3 and 4) — Rattle and the BPO have just released a 3-CD set of the four Brahms symphonies on EMI –and a rarely performed work by Arnold Schoenberg, the inventor of atonal music who said Brahms was his favorite composer.

Here are some links to stories about the concert, including a brief interview with Rattle:

And here is a review of the Carnegie Hall performance:

My question is simple: How come we don’t get to hear this group doing this repertoire with this conductor in Madison?

Ann Arbor and Madison are often compared to each other in the way that faculty members and students go back and forth between the two famed Big 10 state universities.

So how did Ann Arbor pull it off?

We have the much-touted Overture Center, but apparently they have the population of Detroit and that counts for more.

But don’t you wonder if booking them in Madison might draw people from, say, Milwaukee? Or will those people go to Chicago? How about from the Twin Cities?

Anyway, I would sure like to see and — more importantly — hear Rattle and the Berliners doing Brahms here. That might settle the issue about buying the Brahms set I asked in yesterday’s blog post.

Would any one else like to hear them in Madison?

So why aren’t they coming here?

Is it economics — you know, plain old cost and high ticket prices?

Too small an audience base?

Bad planning or no offer to book them?

Too much competition from, say, the Madison Symphony Orchestra and other classical music events?

The Ear would like some opinions and answers.

Posted in Classical music

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