True story:

Applicants for the post of principal conductor of the LA Phil were asked to submit a list of works they’d like to conduct in their first season. Esa-Pekka Salonen’s list was full of pieces by challenging contemporary composers. At the interview, the chair of the board looked severely over his application, turned to him and said,

“I don’t quite know how to put this to you, Mr Salonen, but… here at the Phil, we prefer our composers… dead.”

This may still apply to a considerable extent within the echelons of WAM; yet ironically, when those dead composers were alive, the core repertoire was contemporary: baroque and romantic audiences came along expecting to hear new music.

For China too, as I show in Appendix 1 of my book Daoist priests of the Li family, I attempt not a normative reconstruction of some timeless ancient wisdom, but a descriptive account of ritual life within changing modern society. See Debunking “living fossils”.

For the great maestro Salonen, see also here and here. For more interview stories, click here.

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