Hello. For those of you interested, the above are websites of my high school's rock orchestra. One is their website, one is a youtube video of one of their performances, and there is a review of one of their performances at the House of Blues in downtown Cleveland.
Again, I am not particularly a fan of electric orchestras, but it is interesting. I think there is something to Cook's assertion that authenticity is important, at least as far as something's ability to be marketable. Cook brings up the fact innovation is often more highly reviewed than working within an already-set framework. I think that applies here.
To some extent, (and I don't want to put down this orchestra) the level of musicality/musicianship is probably not as important as the sensationalism of the production itself - the kids get to play rock-like instruments, dress cool, and play hits that people dance and sing to (as well as some classical works that are well-known). In addition to this, the kids really do practice. It's kind of like the cover of the 16-year old violinist's album - if you put it in a different dress, how much are people going to be listening to the subtleties of the playing?
I'm excited for this orchestra, and I think the fact that kids are genuinely excited to play music is great. The level to which the community is involved is also important and a positive side effect. However, I don't think the musicianship displayed is anywhere near the level of a symphony or a string quartet. I would never of course put a high school orchestra on that level, but I worry that the kids in the orchestra may never be able to hear or appreciate the difference. The audiences for that sort of performance are quite different, and you're not going to hear the Devil went down to Georgia. Should orchestras consider changing their attire, and occassionally throwing in an old pop favorite? I wonder.....