Friday, November 21, 2008

Gramophone: Cleveland Orchestra second best U.S. Orchestra

The U.K.'s Gramophone magazine ranked the Cleveland Orchestra as the second best U.S. orchestra behind Chicago, but ranked seventh overall. The orchestra typically ranks in the top five in the world, so this isn't necessarily cheery news as we expect to be near the top of any list of great orchestras, but it's not really bad news, either.

The ranking of orchestras was done by classical music critics worldwide.

While the rankings are based on performance and individuality, there is a major difference between Chicago and Cleveland. The Chicago Symphony is on firm financial ground, actually producing a surplus this year. The Cleveland Orchestra is struggling financially. We reported last year that the plan to expand its donor base with residencies in Miami* and Vienna was not going as well as planned. The last I heard, speaking with someone who keeps a close ear on the financial position of the orchestra, we can expect a deficit again this year.

It's remarkable that the orchestra, through reputation and a devout following and support in this town, has remained one of the premiere orchestras for so long. Cleveland is a much smaller city than any of the top-ranked American symphony orchestras. This latest report says we can still see one of the world's best orchestras playing in University Circle.

*In the above photo, the orchestra is rehearsing in Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center (then called the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts).

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