If you haven't read the most recent article by Alex Ross, the classical music critic who writes for The New Yorker, you should take note of his most recent piece, On the Road. In this article, Ross hits the highway to hear three orchestras that do not make tours to Carnegie Hall: the Indianapolis Symphony, the Nashville Symphony, and the Alabama Symphony. With his characteristic insight Ross writes positively about each ensemble, reviewing three concerts in two days and concluding that "Great performances can happen anytime skilled players respond with unusual fervor to a conductor whose vision is secure."
It would be great to have Ross come to Portland to hear the Oregon Symphony. I think that he would have some encouraging things to say.