Perfect Pitch

John Axelrod has a plan to make classical music hip--and himself hot

Shortly thereafter, a UH architecture student drops by the Hogg Palace with the program cover for Orchestra X's first concert. It's a bright yellow solarized photo of a woman playing a television set as if it were a cello. In one of the many moments of serendipity in Axelrod's life, he found the image "waiting for him" while attending a gala in the UH architecture school building. It was on display, part of a class project for the Houston Symphony's young artists competition, and the designer just happened to be nearby. The image had been too cool for the symphony, the student said, but he was happy to let it be used by Orchestra X.

Looking at the program cover, Axelrod is excited, enthusiastic, thrilled. What he holds in his hand is evidence that his concept is on the brink of becoming a reality. But it's also evidence of something else: that there is, perhaps inevitably, a gap between a sales pitch and reality. For there, underneath "inaugural season" and above "Orchestra X" are five words: "John Axelrod, Artistic Director, Conductor.

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