Music: Which U.S. Orchestras Are Best?

Rising standards outside the Big Five create a new elite

Their players are highly skilled specialists, prized for their uncommon physical abilities and welded into a team by a strong figure of authority. Their seasons are long, routinely lasting from early fall to late spring and often extending into the summer. Their budgets run into the millions of dollars; their fans are numerous. Heard on radio and seen on television, they have become symbols of their cities, sources of local pride and the subject of endless arguments over which is best.

The Washington Redskins, Dallas...

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