The Detroit Free Press reported a few days ago about the surprising amount of American music being performed by the Detroit Symphony this season. Unfortunately, surprise is warranted. American orchestras and conductors, shy away from performing American music. This, frankly, is shameful. Other orchestras in other countries show a preference for the music of their homeland. I expect Scandinavian orchestras to perform Sibelius, Aho, Sinding, and whatever other regional voices they feel are important. Instead of more Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler wouldn't it be nice if orchestras played more Rorem? Heck, even more Copland or Barber would be a significant improvement.
Some orchestras make it their practice to push American music along with more traditional fare on the listeners. Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony have done a particularly good job. Last year the orchestra premiered Harbison's Bass Concerto, this year its Sam Jones Horn Concerto. These two examples come immediately to mind. A few seasons earlier they even focused their performances on American composers in the way of two mini-festivals. This year, even, the Seattle Symphony is focusing on a different type of "American" composer - the immigrant composer.