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To be announced: Orchestra to return to MCB for 2010-2013

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Great news. Thanks, iwatchthecorps, for posting it.

The largest grant -- $900,000 -- will provide Miami City Ballet with orchestral accompaniment during its 2010-13 seasons. Last year, the ballet canceled its orchestral agreement at midseason because of a funding shortage.

``Returning the orchestra to the pit will help the ballet maintain its national reputation and create 45 jobs for musicians,'' the Knight Foundation said in a statement.

Dennis Scholl, the foundation's Miami program director, says the selection committee's decision to fund the ballet was unanimous.

``We gave our biggest grant to the ballet for one reason: We have a number of things of integral quality in culture and, let's face it, our ballet is certainly world-class,'' Scholl said. ``The idea of them not having an orchestra in the pit is pretty tough. We sat down and talked about it and said, `What is the singular most important thing we could do this year?' There was no debate about it. Everyone thought this was one of the most critical things we could do for this community.''

The statement makes it clear that this is a reward for past achievement ("integral quality in culture" / "world-class") as well as an encouragement for the future.

It makes the Cranko R&J more possible. (Can you imagine a project like that having to use canned music.) That, and the possible 25th Anniversary visit to Europe, which EV hinted at during a couple of his pre-performance talks. :)

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Three seasons, all in one fell swoop?! Golly, Molly, who are these guys? The Knight foundation, I mean. Wow! Double wow! Three seasons might encompass another revival of Symphony in Three Movements, which, with all respects to MCB's sound guy, who has improved things a lot in recent years -- I even had to check out the pit in the Jackie Gleason Theatre the first season things got better, to see if there were musicians in it (there weren't) -- really does need an orchestra, assuming they can play that piece. An orchestra, and for three years! You know, with that kind of stability, an orchestra has a chance to develop, too.

Thanks for the good news, iwatchthecorps, you're obviously watching something else too!

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You raise a good point about "live music," Jack --

assuming they can play that piece.
I've heard 2 orchestras -- separated by a period of canned music. The first was Florida Classical Orchestra, which performed Symphony in Three Movements in 2003, I believe. The most recent was Opus One, conducted by Juan Francisco de La Manna. My impression was that both could handle the required scores quite well. de la Manna is especially good as to tempo, and there didn't seem to be much that his musicians couldn't play. Jewels is a test of different styles, and they did very well, I think, in 2007.

My rather uneducated standards were formed by listening over the years to NYCB's orchestra, which could often be quite variable in results, depending on conductor or God knows what. I learned to value the strengths of live music and overlook some of the technical bobbles. Canned music, no matter how good the original orchestra and the sound system, has a way of fading into the background, providing a beat and a feeling, obviously, but mushing up the details. Live music provides an aural vibrancy that corresponds to the vibrancy of ballet movement at its best.

I hope de la Manna and Opus One come back.

Cristian, you know more the music scene in Miami more intimately than the rest of us: what do you think?

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I think there's also a benefit from the dancers' point of view. Always dancing to the same recording might get them feeling constrained after a while, and the slight differences from one "live" performance to the next might help keep their relation to what they hear fresh. I think we even have a member or two of MCB here, if pseudonymously; maybe we'll hear about that aspect.

But as to mushing the details, I think it depends on the recording. Some of them, as I claim on the Program I thread, are very tough competition for a pit orchestra, like Stravinsky's last recording of Symphony in Three Movements, although I'll grant you, performances at Mr. B's NYCB could be pretty high sometimes, especially with Irving.

I remember enjoying some of de la Manna's performances, too. Whoever shows up will probably reflect credit on Francisco Renno, listed as "Music Advisor to the Artistic Director" in the Program I program book. His own piano playing is very good in my experience, but we haven't heard much of it for a while.

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as to mushing the details, I think it depends on the recording.
I wrote unclearly. It's not usually the recording that mushes the details -- unless a company is forced to use something cheap by a poor orchestra. It's the sound emerging from imperfect and imperfectly placed speakers and then interacting with the auditorium. I can't recall ever having heard this done successfully for orchestral music.

Re Renno: I agree entirely. He's a marvelous asset. When he's playing, often on stage, the dancers have a sensitive instrument to respond to. Everything comes to life. .

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What can I say...In the current times were I've been the witness of such sad events as the dissolution of the 4 decades old wonderful Florida Concert Association and the struggling of smaller institutions-(symphonic orchestras, ballet troupes and the like)-, this come as wonderful news. The Knight Foundation, with Mr. Alberto Ibarguen as its current head, has a long history of community work and arts support since 1950. As per its involvement with MCB, they were the ones that made possible its pairing with the Cleveland Orchestra with a $250.000 grant, and previously they had granted Eddie's troupe with another gift...this time of $900.000. Not bad at all, right...? Things are certainly changing within the orchestral environment now, for sure. For instance, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, with director Eduardo Marturet at its head, has launched an aggressive campaign that has included a brand new full season, mail and e-mail listings and current plans to take over the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach-(yay..South Beach again)-once Mr. Tylson moves his New World Symphony to the new glossy City Center building across the street. Mr. Tylson himself has done an AMAZING job to keep his money coming, and his orchestra and seasons are just out of this world-(next concert this upcoming weekend, and all Brahms...). Both New World Symphony and Florida Grand Opera have a strong economic foundation-(their heads being both VERY charismatic individuals, always screaming for money before performances...)-and I have always noticed some lesser degree of aggressiveness in MCB's pledges. Anyways...again, what can I say, just that I am very thankful to have live music back!

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