The first-ever photograph of Philharmonic Hall, Odessa - February 7th, 1899 The Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra and Hobart Earle in the great Hall of the St.Petersburg Philharmonic Society The Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra and Hobart Earle in Carnegie Hall,  New York
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   Then and now

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. "

Abraham Lincoln

"He who cannot remember the past is condemned to repeat it. "

George Santayana


A look at some aspects of the past ten years (with typical Odessa humor, for which our city is widely known throughout our part of the world):


THEN (1991)

NOW (2001)

At home in Odessa, terrible old chairs on stage, many of which were about to fall apart
 
At home in Odessa, new chairs on stage, much better, but one or two already in need of repair
 
Rickety-rackety old music stands, clumsy and cumbersome to move   New music stands, easily and quickly moveable
 
Countless post-concert headaches suffered by woodwind players having trumpets blown directly into their ears   Intricate system of risers on stage, which have practically eliminated almost all headaches
 
Three-layered wooden stage in Philharmonic Hall, Odessa (bad for acoustics)   New, single-layered wooden stage in Philharmonic Hall, Odessa (much better for acoustics)
 
Curtains hanging everywhere at the back and on the sides of the stage (terrible for acoustics)   No curtains hanging anywhere on the stage (much better for acoustics)
 
Noise from the street coming through the windows into the hall
  Much less noise - the windows have been partly (but not yet entirely) sealed
 
Cold air from the street coming through the windows into the hall in winter   Less cold air from the street, thanks to the partly sealed windows
 
Chairs for the audience whose backs were laced with fabric, a sound absorbing material - very bad for acoustics  

The same old chairs for the audience (this is still very bad for acoustics.)
 
Very poor lighting on stage and countless blowouts   Much better lighting on stage and fewer blowouts (with portable lights for music stands available, just in case....)
 
Very little backstage space for orchestra musicians in Philharmonic Hall, Odessa   Stil! very little backstage space for orchestra musicians in Philharmonic Hall, Odessa
 
No pocket calculators and all counting done by abacus - and the orchestra's book-keeping non-existent; simply a part of the Philharmonic Society's book-keeping   A fully computerized book-keeping system totally independent of the Philharmonic Society's
 
No fax, no photocopy machine and very poor telephones   Photocopy machine, fax, e-mail and a website (www.odessaphilharmonic.org). Telephones a lot better, but still not that great
 
Concert tails that (already in 1991) were decades old, heavy and worn, uncomfortable and hot   New concert tails, shirts, bow ties and trousers no less elegant than those worn by most guest artists to our concerts
 
An orchestra worried about attendance at concerts at home in Odessa   An orchestra that is the pride of the city and able to repeat concerts as often as three times at home in Odessa to a full house
 
An orchestra proud of its tradition in Russian and Ukrainian repertoire   An orchestra able to feel at home in a number of differing musical styles (extracting praise abroad not only for its own native repertoire but also, for instance: for its performance of North American music of the 20th century from the "Toronto Star"; for its rendition of Brahms second symphony from the "Financial Times" in London and even for its grasp of the idiom of the Viennese waltz from Vienna's major daily newspaper "Die Presse")
 
An orchestra who had seen only very little of the outside world   An orchestra who has made 15 trips abroad to cities in 12 different countries in 8 different time zones and as far away from Odessa as San Francisco and Perth, Australia
 
Musicians who couldn't possibly imagine visiting Mahler's little composition hut in Steinbach am Attersee or Bruckner's tomb under the organ at St. Florian   Musicians who have done both
 
Musicians who couldn't even dream of visiting the country of their music director's birth (Venezuela)   Musicians who still have not visited the country of their music director's birth (Venezuela)
 
Musicians not able to live off their official salaries.   Musicians even further away from being able to live off their official salaries.