“Should American orchestras be changing their tune?” asks Michael Huebner in Sunday’s (2/14) Birmingham News (Alabama). “What if Yo-Yo Ma were an orchestra? How are audiences’ tastes affecting classical programming? Those were some of the topics addressed by Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, who was visiting the Alabama Symphony’s Birmingham offices last week. Word about ASO’s innovative programs, dynamic conductor and solid attendance numbers has reached his New York office, and he wanted to meet with Alabama Symphony staff and hear first-hand what all the buzz is about.” Asked about the state of the arts, Rosen comments, “There isn’t a part of American life that isn’t at a critical juncture right now. Not the economy, per se—it’s in a really bad place right now—but how orchestras work is changing in big ways. We’re seeing it in young musicians coming out of conservatories—their aspirations are very different than a generation or two ago. We’re seeing it in tremendous engagement in the arts online, in music technology. We’re seeing it in demographics, this huge explosion of people who are over 80. Recent findings from the National Endowment for the Arts, and our own research, show that baby boomers are not going to be the savior of concert audiences, that their participation rates are actually lower than their cohorts a generation ago. There’s a big explosion of growth in Hispanic population. Philanthropy is changing as wealth is passed down, and the interest and desire to support the arts is changing. All of these things are going on in an environment in which orchestras operate. I think the League will play a central role in helping orchestras navigate through this period of great change.”

Posted February 17, 2010