The Philadelphia Inquirer

March 25, 2003

Let's bring new ears to the Philadelphia Orchestra

By Christoph Eschenbach

What does the Philadelphia Orchestra mean to me? I have felt, seen, heard and sensed the orchestra and its organization for some weeks now, and I can happily say that we already are beginning to grow together and to form a symbiosis of a special kind. On that we can fruitfully build for the future.
One of my maxims in life has been "quality knows no limits," and we can, I think, embrace that word for our work, and work on it and work on it and work on it. But this work will be with healthy ambition and therefore with joy. That makes our work fruitful and enjoyable for other people, we hope. The goal is to be at the forefront, locally in Philadelphia in its beautiful Kimmel Center, and internationally in the great music centers of the world.
As I have said many times, I want to raise the invisible curtain between stage and audience. In the weeks I’ve worked here, I have spoken to audiences and introduced composers. This is to make the connection between music and, especially in this case, new music, more casual and more human – to explain things, to spread more warmth, to show more than my back.
Now in this hall we have the opportunity for the audience to embrace the orchestra, which is already wonderful.
I want to work very closely with the musicians to see that we can reach out to schools and to neighborhoods and to bring new people – children and families but also new adults – to our concerts, and have the opportunity to build new audiences for the future.
This, of course, cannot be done in a minute, cannot be done in two days or three months. We want to take our time, to reflect on these things and not rush, but do it thoughtfully.
We have to have our ears and eyes open every moment, because in teaching others we also can learn so much, and music is the ideal partner in that undertaking. Music has no boundaries, and if there are we have to break them down. In doing that, we preserve the dignity of music, which speaks directly to the dignity of human nature.
Especially in difficult times, we have to show and live our music-making. And we have to show on stage that we have formed a peaceful family. This family is a microcosm of humanity, which can be and should be an example of sanity, for life and existence in general. That is our art and the great artists and composers have always reflected that. We are the ones, fortunately, who can bask in that experience and project it to you.

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