Classical Crossroads: The Path Forward for Music in the 21st Century

Amadeus: Rowman & Littlefield. Sept. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9781538152225. $26.95. MUSIC
With this engaging title, Slatkin’s third volume about the music industry (after Leading Tones), the renowned conductor combines a handbook for music directors with thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on musical organizations. Slatkin’s long tenures leading the St. Louis and National Symphonies, among other positions, provide ample fodder for a series of short chapters on learning repertoire, creating and rehearsing balanced programs, dealing with orchestral musicians and soloists, finding agents and managers, and hearing auditions. Attention is also paid to the role of the arts in schools and the impact of changes in marketing, and in recorded, visual, and online media on the profession. Excerpts from Slatkin’s own blog posts, which span from May 2020 to January 2021, consider how orchestras and other institutions are coping in light of the pandemic; responses from his audience add interest.
VERDICT Though it has much practical value, Slatkin’s latest title isn’t a nuts-and-bolts guide to the conductor’s craft; rather it’s an informative, witty exploration of the role of maestros in developing their ensembles. It will appeal to anyone curious about classical music and those seeking to make careers in the performing arts.
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