Linked below is a preview story about New Bedford Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster Jesse Holstein, a terrific human being, stalwart performer and creative thinker when it comes to his profession. The story previews his performance with the Tri-County Symphonic Band in Dartmouth, an arrangement for that instrumentation of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto.
The story (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20160211/ENTERTAINMENTLIFE/160219951/0/SEARCH) is already old news—the concert happened this weekend. But the body of Jesse's work—with the resurgent NBSO, as a prominent part of the Providence inner city musical education initiative Community MusicWorks, and not insignificantly as a performer—segues into the state of other regional ensembles.
A recent trip to the Hartford Symphony, to see the work of conductor Carolyn Kuan, and assess the state of that orchestra, which just survived a near-death experience. The ongoing prosperity of the Cape Symphony Orchestra, which is supposedly going to add to its onstage successes by raising the money for and building a new concert hall in Hyannis. And, just anecdotally, an interview with composer Mark Adamo, another great and thoughtful human being, and admiring his willingness to travel to conservatories and to small ensembles to coach his works—in this case, an upcoming performance of his opera Little Women by the MetroWest Opera company.
Evaluating the work of regional ensembles, orchestras especially, almost always gets judged in the light of full-time, professional ensembles from larger cities. I am privileged to observe both. "Better" and "more polished" have to start being replaced by more appropriate comments, comments that reflect the democratic nature of music-making.
More on this after the idea gestates. Perhaps it's my own background—generically, a white boy from the suburbs—but there seems certain to be a better way of collectively assessing musical performances.