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Classical Notes

Washington press should credit St. Paul pioneers

Posted at 3:15 PM on June 12, 2006 by Don Lee

An article in The Washington Post recommends that Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra borrow a big idea pioneered by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

The NSO is looking for a music director to replace Leonard Slatkin, who leaves DC in two years. Since no successor appears to be in line, writer Mark Mobley (who happens to be my former colleague) says the orchestra should seize the opportunity to experiment. He suggests a strategically chosen series of guest conductors, each contributing different ideas to the season. It sounds a lot like the SPCO’s Artistic Partners.

But Mark doesn’t mention the SPCO. Instead, he cites newer and less unusual leadership models in Pittsburgh and Atlanta. “I thought about the SPCO,” he told me after I called him on the omission, “but they’re such a different beast....” While that beast may not be slouching toward Washington, I wouldn't be surprised to see its hour come round elsewhere.