Allan Kozinn’s recent New York Times article stated that,
If you want to understand the ways that a modern orchestra must be all things to all people if it hopes to maintain a devoted audience, look at the New York Philharmonic’s schedule for the week just ended.
Yes, the orchestra did premiere a new work by Magnus Lindberg and included Debussy, Sibelius, Brahms, and Webern. However, I can hardly count several works by dead (or almost all dead) white men to be “all things to all people”.
In fact, the New York Philharmonic has one of the worst records for including works by women composers. (I, unfortunately, do not have accurate information about the inclusion of other composers that don’t fit the “dead-white-male” category.) According to the repertoire report available through the League of American Orchestras, the New York Philharmonic has not programmed any works by women composers in at least two years.
Thankfully, that trend seems to be ending, as Sofia Gubaidulina’s Two Paths, which was commissioned by Kurt Masur and premiered in 1999, is programmed for April 2011 and will feature Cynthia Phelps and Rebecca Young on viola.
Here is a video of the maestro speaking about the work:
I will be hopeful that this work, which is subtitled “A Dedication to Mary and Martha” and takes inspiration from biblical characters, will be the first of many more works by women composers heard in the near future by the New York Phil. As it stands, this ensemble’s lack of diverse programming is anything but “all things” to my ears or interests.