The Chicago Symphony took fifth place in Gramophone‘s listing of the world’s greatest orchestras. I’ve always hated this orchestral-ranking sort of thing, because at this level, “best” isn’t really the best way to talk about them. Chicago has a sound that goes “through” you, as I’ve explained it to friends; the New York Philharmonic plays Gershwin with a high-gloss shine that will make you smile; and the Cleveland Orchestra has this finesse that’s jaw-dropping. Which of those is “best”? I don’t know; it depends what you like and what sort of mood you’re in. But since orchestras play the same music, unlike rock bands, it makes a little more sense to try to rank them. I guess.
In an interview with NPR’s Tom Huizenga, Gramphone editor-in-chief James Inverne says the survey came down as a “triumph of character.” That’s sort of like what I was saying above, about there not really being a “best,” but a string of differences and nuances.
Still, I can’t help gloating. We have the next President, we have (according to the world’s most insightful critics) the greatest orchestra in the US, we have a shot at getting the 2016 Summer Olympics, we have several reportedly outstanding chefs whose restaurants I can’t afford to eat in, we have theaters and art-house movie theaters and architecture and casinos and breweries, and we have …okay, we don’t have the public transportation thing completely worked out yet, the Cubs folded like a flan in a cupboard last fall, and you need to wear a sweater in the winter. Still. Cheezborger!