NY Phil season pass

An interesting concept has come from the New York Philharmonic — a NY Phil season pass on iTunes.  Everyone knows iTunes is a destination point for downloading music, but it has also become a source for downloading just about every other type of content as well (from podcasts to television shows).  Until know, iTunes season passes were primarily used for television shows and other serial media.  This season, the NY Phil is experimenting with selling a pass for the orchestra’s concert season.  The concept of having concert performances available for download soon after a concert is over has been kicking around for sometime now.  Some, like the Berlin Philharmonic, are making concert broadcasts available online and the Metropolitan Opera offers current HD productions as well as a vast catalog of previously recorded operas available for viewing.  Both come at a cost and both enrich the audio experience with visuals.  I believe the NY Phil’s iTunes season pass is the first to offer a subscription for audio recordings only.

The season pass makes perfect sense and I hope the NY Phil continues to offer season passes in future seasons. For many orchestras, concerts over the course of a season, aren’t always just a string of stand-alone musical events.  Concerts reinforce and build off of one another.  In Seattle a few years ago, the SSO had a season highlighting music by composers who emigrated to the United States.  Alan Gilbert’s first season on the podium may not be defined by one, overarching musical idea, but that’s not to say future seasons won’t be.  Where seasons are tied together by one idea or series of ideas, a season pass would be an invaluable tool to experience the artistic concept as it evolved over a series of months.

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7 thoughts on “NY Phil season pass

  1. Too bad some of those recordings aren’t available individually. $150 is a lot, even though it buys a lot of music.

    To this day, my favorite recording of Shostakovich 5 is a live recording released by the NY Phil with little fanfare, available only through iTunes (as far as I know). I’ve got many other recordings that have elements displayed by that live performance, but this one’s got more fire than any of the others.

  2. I didn’t notice a season pass for dudamel, but the LA Phil has released a Mahler 1 recording on iTunes taken from the first performances of the season. If you consider that you are buying an entire season of music, $150 isn’t that much. While it would be nice to be able to buy individual recordings, I’d want the entire season since that seems to be the gimmick.

  3. I would jump at this, especially given the higher bitrate (256 kbps), but I’m concerned at contractual violations. For instance, why wasn’t the Bronfman performance of the Rach 3 provided with the rest of Dudamel’s first concert with the LAPO? (We just got the Bartok, which was a fierce interpretation.) Or Salonen’s Insomnia followed by Prokofiev’s 1st piano concerto (with Simon Trpceski)? All that’s offered is the Bartok Symphonie Fantastique from the same concert. And, though it’s great the whole concert will be available on DVD, why isn’t DGG/iTunes releasing the John Adams piece “City Noir” as audio? (He himself seems to consider his music good for the car…)

    The NYPO series is off to an inauspicious start – leaving out the fascinating combination of Renee Fleming singing Messiaen’s “Poemes pour Mi”.

    There are a lot of newish pieces, and pieces featuring soloists, on the schedule this year. If DGG/iTunes had a better track record for actually releasing whole concerts, I’d subscribe in a heartbeat. As it is, I’m going to wait and see before I commit.

  4. Those are good points Matt. I think most of those omissions are because of the contractual obligations of the soloists. I think the new arrangement the NY Phil has with iTunes might give them a bit more latitude, but perhaps not much more. The Messiaen would have been great to have! In the end, I think the season pass will be much better overall than the canned digital releases by the major labels which will focus on the pieces that are sure-fire winners. That’s why there is no City Noir but Mahler’s 1st. Or, no Salonen and Prokofiev but Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

  5. An interesting conversation. I purchased the series last week. The conversation about price and individual works was irrelevant to me. over 50 works for $150 is cheap. My interest was in the quality of the recordings. The first seven are awesome!

    I suspect the absence of Renee from the series is rather simple- she has an exclusive recording deal on Decca/DG/Universal. I can’t imagine that label releasing her to participate in a series that competes with DG Concerts – and in some ways – with Dudamel. So far, from what I can tell, all of the other soloists have been included in the releases.

    Way to go NY Phil!

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