I send a fistbump to everyone who left comments about this on my blog, since every one of you pushed the envelope and voted for five things instead of four — just like I did. This probably means, though, that one or more of the reviews will run on-line only.
As for the idea that since there is unlimited space on-line, we should be able to review anything we want: the problem is that there isn’t unlimited money. People who write reviews need to be paid for their work, and neither the budget nor the pool of available critics will extend to cover nine reviews in one weekend. (And when we do run these reviews on-line, I fear they don’t generally attract enough readers to give me a case for adding more of them.)
You get the point: this is a challenging task; there’s never a “right” answer; and you may lose sleep about the things you didn’t cover.
Without further ado, here’s the result of the popular vote. If it were up to you, you’d read reviews of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Brooklyn Rider, the National Philharmonic, and Steven Isserlis/Kirill Gerstein. The fifth spot was a tie between the InSeries’s “Clemenza di Tito” and Opera Lafayette’s “Lalla Roukh.” (Atlas, please revamp your website. It’s so hard to find your new-music series on there!)
And here’s the call I made when I assigned the reviews at the beginning of January. We’ll be covering Bang on a Can, Brooklyn Rider, Steven Isserlis/Kirill Gerstein, Opera Lafayette, and the New Voices festival at Catholic University.
Some of my thoughts: Catholic University has a particular focus on music theater and vocal music; I’m curious to hear this; and reviewing it means covering a local organization that hasn’t gotten a lot of coverage, and that is doing something interesting that merits attention. (The National Philharmonic could make the same claim, but we did review them in November, and will certainly cover them again before the season is done.)
The other four, to my mind, were all must-covers. Three are nationally recognized musicians and/or ensembles who always bring something a little different to performances. The fourth, Opera Lafayette, is the prime example in DC of a homegrown group that’s moving outside its home town; “Lalla Roukh” will go on to play at Lincoln Center after this weekend’s DC performance (something I should have mentioned in my initial post). Not only am I interested to see what the group is up to, but from a pedestrian, journalistic viewpoint, it would not be great if the New York Times were to run the only review of a Washington-based music event.
The Lark Quartet would have been higher on my list had I not already reviewed them in Washington with the same program. Repeating the program seemed such an odd decision that I wrote to their manager before I made the assignments to ask if there were any specific reason they were doing it. I didn’t, however, hear back.
Anyway, now you all know what’s happening this weekend - and you know what will and won’t be covered by the Post. If anyone is attending any of the concerts that we’re not covering and wants to post their comments and views on the blog on Monday, I’m sure other readers would appreciate it.
And I’d be interested to hear your additional thoughts on questions of coverage — something critics think about all the time. We had these debates at the New York Times too, week after week; and there, too, we didn’t have the resources to cover plenty of must-see concerts.