Sorry or Grateful: Should Orchestras Play Show Tunes?

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Put me in the “grateful” column for the upcoming New York Philharmonic performance of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company. The same “band” that nailed Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra in the Hungarian Echoes Festival has also been branching out into Broadway: they played a wonderful 80th birthday tribute to Sondheim last year, and more recently delivered an evening of Broadway hits.

Some may call it crossover (and what’s wrong with that?), but I call it great musicians playing great American music. And in these days of the incredible shrinking pit orchestra, it's a real treat to hear a full orchestra let loose on a Broadway show. The fact that some interesting actors (including Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Christina Hendricks, and Martha Plimpton) get to join the Philharmonic to strutt their musical theater stuff doesn’t hurt, either.

Later on in April, you can hear the New York Philharmonic return to its roots with a piece of Mahler's. I'll drink to that.

What do you think about this trend?