News and Features

So Why Do Orchestras Still Tour Europe, Anyway?

The Dallas Symphony finishes its seven-city European tour tomorrow night in Hanover. KERA reporter Jerome Weeks wondered, why do orchestras continue to tour like this? He spoke with Scott Cantrell, the Dallas Morning News’ music critic, who has been covering the DSO on tour.

KERA radio report:

Expanded online report:

Jerome: The internet means we can stay at home with our downloads and live streaming — which is precisely what was done with the DSO’s performance in Amsterdam. So why do leading orchestras go to all the trouble of a European tour?

Cantrell: “Well, there’s still nothing like the experience of being in a great hall with a great orchestra. The best surround sound equipment cannot replicate that effect. And for better or for worse, it’s something that major orchestras are simply expected to do.”

Jerome: Why?

Cantrell: “I think it’s something they have to do to get their name out there and also it reinforces the orchestra’s credibility at home that it has played in these halls where the world’s top orchestras play night after night.”

Jerome: So it’s not simply a matter of organizational vanity, trying to impress audiences in Vienna or Frankfurt? The DSO can now sell this at home: See how we impressed them over there. And see how we’re now one of this special group of orchestras that plays these halls.

Cantrell: “I couldn’t agree more.”

Jerome: Ten years ago, you traveled with the DSO on its last European tour. How is this tour different?

Cantrell: “It seemed to me that the last one was a little better spread out, I should say. We were all pretty exhausted last night after four concerts in four cities in a row. I know last night, they got in here and they had 20 minutes before the concert to try out a few things in the hall and that’s all they had for a rehearsal before the concert. But they rose to the occasion.”

Jerome: Sounds like a road trip! But again, how can playing all these halls in all these cities like that be good for an orchestra?

Cantrell: “I think it’s good for the orchestra because the challenge of responding to different halls and different audiences really revs up their fine points of playing and adjusting their playing to each new hall. And I think it clearly makes a better orchestra. We will hear a better orchestra when the orchestra returns to Dallas.”

Jerome: Thanks, and have a safe trip back.

Cantrell: “Thank you!”

Previous Art & Seek coverage of the DSO tour: