Thursday, December 06, 2007

Beethoven in the Bronx.

There's an article in today's New York Times on the Bronx Symphony Orchestra, a little-known community institution with a proud past and an uncertain future. Here' s a sample:

The music started in an adult education class not long after World War II, with veterans and survivors seeking to lose themselves in Mozart and Beethoven.

Sixty years later, the Bronx Symphony Orchestra is still performing, its chairs filled by professional musicians who supplement a core of amateurs. Together, they play classical music for a dwindling audience in a borough more noted for its rap and reggaetón than its Rossini and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Yet, while the orchestra has survived television and crime waves, changing tastes and internal squabbles, it may not live through a policy change by the city that has put dozens of small arts organizations in competition for public money, ending decades of automatic annual financing. The intent, the city said, was to help out new groups.

For the musicians of the Bronx Symphony, the question is how long an itinerant orchestra that performs for nothing and rehearses in a cramped high school music room with lousy acoustics can get by in an age of competition — one in which even small arts groups have hired professionals to raise money and court corporate sponsorships.

And so the city’s effort to strengthen its cultural offerings might end up as an elegy for a Bronx tradition.

“Not long ago, we used to do eight concerts a year; now we’re down to four," said the Bronx Symphony’s vice president, Andre Quiñones, 42, a violinist who works full time as a train service supervisor for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“We’re a mix, and it’s lovely to look at the orchestra — black, white, Asian, you are welcome as long as you can play,” he said. “But I don’t know how long we’re going to survive.”

To read the rest of the article, click here. Better yet, take a look at the Bronx Symphony Orchestra's website to learn more about the group (and, perhaps, to see how you can lend them a helping hand). AMDG.


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