Random Monday: Phoenix Symphony, Cannibalism and Miss Mussel

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» Mixed messages at the Phoenix Symphony blog

A 6/24/09 Phoenix Symphony SoundPost blog notes that Conductor Michael Christie was bestowed an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award for Programming of Contemporary Music for the PSO’s 2008/09 Season. This is a very nice feather-in-the-cap for Mr. Christie, who is also known for his adventurous programming at the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

Interesting that this announcement fails to mention the third-place status of the award, within a broader category of eight levels. Not to rob Mr. Christie of his thunder — 3rd place is a great honor — but this omission might implicitly lead a reader to assume that the distinction may be something other than what it is.

Mr. Christie is in excellent, world-class company with this ASCAP award — why omit that fact? This is an honor among estimable colleagues that is not to be underestimated. Was this a simple oversight or was it a misguided attempt at spin?

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An unrelated blog post on 7/2/09 — “Marketing Mania” — raises other questions. It is unfortunate that the copy in this post comes across as very self-absorbed.

With every piece of promotional material that’s hung or propped up this season, you can be sure our Marketing team had a crafty hand or inspective eye on it!

Feel free to drop the Marketing staff words of encouragement in the comment section below!

While this appears to be an attempt to elicit public support, from an outside perspective it made this reader wince. In light of the organization’s recent financial troubles, self-aggrandizing of a Marketing team — with a capital “M”! — seems both poorly-timed and obtuse.

In either example from the PSO blog, this style of copy sends a confused, mixed message. Of course it is important and relevant for an organization to laud its successes, but isn’t it risky to fudge details and openly solicit the public for praise? Might this be perceived as a bit heavy-handed and disingenuous?

The PSO marketing team would do better to take a cue from an excellent article mentioned before at the Horndog Blog : “Is Self-Centered Web Copy Hurting Your Websites?

Good copy for marketing purposes always needs to keep the customer perspective up front.

» Musical cannibalism

In a separate issue somewhat related to the PSO, I have been talking with colleagues in town about troubling trends in the local music scene here in Phoenix, Arizona.

In a town where two opera companies duel over the same donors, a symphony orchestra makes its zero sum game abundantly clear and where a local university music office undercuts the local union musicians for work, how does a freelance musician stand a chance?

I posted this provocative statement as my Facebook status last Thursday in the hopes of eliciting a dialogue. This question will be a topic for some future blogging.

» Miss Mussel gets horn-tastic

Something more horn-related — in a June 30th post, The Omniscient Mussel features three very nice videos of the Berlin Philharmonic Horns, including the one embedded below. This arrangement of the overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla is actually my favorite selection from The London Horn Sound recording.

Principal horn Stefan Dohr makes its look so darned fun and easy — just like it should be.



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