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Violinist-conductor Anne-Sophie Mutter, in rehearsal with the Boston Symphony Orchestra last month. Violinist-conductor Anne-Sophie Mutter, in rehearsal with the Boston Symphony Orchestra last month. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff)
October 9, 2011

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Filling the void Jeremy Eichler pointed out vital concerns about the current state of the BSO being reactive instead of initiating forward moves (“At BSO, future starts now,’’ Arts & Entertainment, Oct. 2). We, the audience, have been patiently waiting for signs of leadership. As a longtime BSO subscriber and former student in Longy’s Continuing Education Program, I and my musical friends went through what Eichler eloquently enumerates: the upward leap of confidence and joy when James Levine arrived, then the slow dreaded downward spiral from his deteriorating health and spectacular accidents, and now the anxiety of suspension for who knows how long. The only silver lining I see is that other musical groups and organizations are filling the void, and we may end up with a healthier musical environment than we have now or had before Levine became a part-time presence. The New England Conservatory is stepping up to the plate; Boston Modern Orchestra Project continues beating a progressive path, and Emmanuel Music mixes contemporary with true-blue composers (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms). In our suburban perimeter there are interesting programs, like Rockport’s, finding support and enthusiastic audiences. If the BSO decides to stay on its island, so be it. Meanwhile, I hope that the Globe and other news media will pick up the baton and expand their coverage of concerts and the often-neglected events that make Boston still a musical Hub.


We have been subscribers to the Boston Symphony Orchestra for a little over 10 years. We have enjoyed the whole experience immensely and have relished the wonderful musicianship and glorious sounds of the BSO under the direction of Maestro Levine. Jeremy Eichler’s points about the challenges of interim programming are well taken and, yes, there are a number of well-known conductors that the management could call on to take the podium on various dates during the coming seasons. Yet this approach in itself will not answer the serious questions Eichler poses. Now would surely seem to be that moment when the BSO works to create an atmosphere, culture, and drive that speaks boldly to the audiences of the 21st century. Out of this evolution and reaching could come an almost natural selection of the most artistic, open-minded, and gifted individual as the Symphony’s next music director.


Mutter matters I have to protest Jeffrey Gantz’s review of last Saturday’s Boston Symphony Orchestra concert, which panned with relentlessly negative bias a concert that was unrecognizable as the superb performance I saw (“Mutter and Mozart miss the mark,’’ g, Oct. 3). The review referred to a “pared-down’’ orchestra, as if using the correct number of superb musicians somehow diminished the event. But Gantz scraped the bottom of the critic’s barrel with his irrelevant drollery about Anne-Sophie Mutter’s “form-fitting sheaths,’’ thereby confirming that no matter what a woman may achieve, it’s still politically correct to poke fun at her for not being overweight. To set the entire record straight, Mutter and the BSO ensemble, all appropriately attired, played their magnificent hearts out on Saturday night, and the audience went crazy. Too bad Gantz missed that performance.


Measuring ‘Prohibition’ Don Aucoin’s interview with [documentary filmmaker] Ken Burns made it seem that “Prohibition’’ tells the same old story we all have seen many times, with images that TV loves: car chases, cigar-chomping gangsters, tommy guns rattling, raids on stills, barrels spilling, flappers dancing, peep-hole peeping, etc. (“Burns takes on ‘Prohibition’,’’ Arts & Entertainment, Sept. 25). Ho hum. The reasons for temperance included alcohol’s tendency to cause family violence, family disintegration, and illness. I have never seen any discussion of whether the period of 1918-1933 saw any reduction in domestic violence or any public health benefits. It would seem inevitable that making alcohol harder to get would have some public health benefits. Did divorces decline? Did car accidents decline? Today alcohol causes rivers of blood to flow in domestic disputes, auto accidents, and other violent crimes. I would like to know whether Prohibition alleviated this problem. But I’m afraid there are no photos of women who didn’t get beaten, divorces that didn’t occur, or car crashes that didn’t happen.


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