New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Struggle To Find Their Way : Deceptive Cadence The New York Philharmonic launches its season with a new music director and executive director. The Metropolitan Opera's season starts with a young music director.
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New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Struggle To Find Their Way

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New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Struggle To Find Their Way

New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Struggle To Find Their Way

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Two of the benefits of living in or visiting this city is that you can attend a performance of the New York Philharmonic or the Metropolitan Opera. Both are beginning new seasons, both have new leadership and both are trying to attract new audiences. Jeff Lunden reports.

JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: New York Philharmonic president and CEO Deborah Borda has returned to the organization where she held the same position in the 1990s, and she's joined by a new music director, Jaap van Zweden.

DEBORAH BORDA: Jaap is the 26th music director in our 177-year history. That means it's a moment of great import because no matter who the past music director was or who the next music director will be, it's a moment to think anew, to take a different point of view.

LUNDEN: Borda and Jaap van Zweden hope to bring in new audiences with a different approach to programming - thematic concerts, such as "Music Of Conscience," "New York Stories." There will also be a lot of new music, says the Dutch-born van Zweden.

JAAP VAN ZWEDEN: We don't have one composer in residence, but we have a lot of composers in residence, in fact, because they come here and they create their own evening. And I think that's a new way of looking and having guests in the house.

(SOUNDBITE OF ASHLEY FURE'S "FILAMENT")

LUNDEN: And they're going to be inviting other guests in the house, says Deborah Borda, everyday New Yorkers who might want a place to go after a hard day's work.

BORDA: Let's bring people to the hall for a series of concerts that Jaap will conduct, one-hour concerts. Every ticket, $5. Also collaborate with trade unions - the firemen's union, policemen's union, hospital workers, school teachers.

LUNDEN: Across the Lincoln Center Plaza at the Metropolitan Opera, the impact of Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the Met's new 43-year-old music director, is less immediately apparent. His tenure begins two years earlier than projected, says New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini.

ANTHONY TOMMASINI: Yannick, when he was announced, it was very exciting in a way because a he's very dynamic, young, tremendous musician. But it was not until 2020. And then the sad development with James Levine, having been suspended for sexual misconduct and then fired, just sped everything up. So somebody has to show up and take over.

LUNDEN: The Metropolitan Opera declined requests for interviews for this story. The Met's been criticized for its response to the Levine scandal and for not changing quickly enough with the times. It has introduced high-definition broadcasts to movie theaters, and next year the company will add Sunday matinees, something many arts institutions began decades ago. And while it does have a new program to commission operas, Anthony Tommasini wonders whether the Met's tradition of presenting a different opera every night also might need to change.

TOMMASINI: You have one show at a time, basically. Maybe two. And you try to create a sense that everyone in New York must come and see what's going on now.

LUNDEN: And now is the big issue, says the Philharmonic's Deborah Borda.

BORDA: It's an on-demand society. We sit down at our keyboards, and everything's at fingertip and you can make a last-minute decision. So the issue is, how do we entice people in that last-minute decision in a very digital world to come to the Philharmonic and to come and sit down in a fairly abstract art form that you sit down and you're quiet for 1 1/2 hours?

LUNDEN: Whatever the answers, the New York Philharmonic just launched its new season and the Met kicks off its season tonight. For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden in New York.

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