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Conducting Business

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Why Parks Concerts Are No Picnic for Musicians

Jul 919 minutes

Mother Nature is unpredictable, as WQXR was reminded last summer in a broadcast of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Central Park. Heavy rain arrived halfway through a Haydn symphony and musicians and station recording engineers were forced to pack it in quickly. Of course, outdoor summer concerts present many hazards: relentless mosquitoes, noisy airplanes, chatty audiences, and stages baked by the afternoon sun.Bad weather can also lead to substandard performances, with wayward intonation and unfocused playing. It can occasionally be dangerous for players and their instruments (varnish on string instruments turns sticky; seams can come unglued). Last year, the New York Philharmonic performed only half of a concert at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx due to the heat, and the crowd got ugly, booing and chanting "We want Dvorak."Despite these challenges, many orchestras say the concerts absolutely necessary. In this podcast we look at the challenges of al fresco performing with these three guests:Robin Pogrebin, culture reporter, New York Times, who recently covered the New York Philharmonic's parks concertsNardo Poy, a violist with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera OrchestraTito Muñoz, conductor and music director of the Phoenix SymphonyThe New York Philharmonic at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on July 17, 2012 (Kim Nowacki/WQXR).Segment Highlights:Pogrebin on the value of outdoor concerts: "Something that seems bucolic and relatively simple actually has a complex operation that enables it behind the scenes. Speaking with Alan Gilbert, the music director of the New York Philharmonic, he said 'it's one of the most important thing

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