Crosscut reported earlier today that Melinda Bargreen has taken the buyout offer from The Seattle Times. Bargreen has served that newspaper as its music critic for 31 years, which is probably the longest tenure of anyone in the Pacific Northwest. According to the letter she sent to friends and colleagues (quoted at length in the Crosscut article). Bargreen leaves the paper on an amicable note and may do some freelance writing for them in a few months.
The news of Bargreen's departure from The Seattle Times, is a real blow to arts coverage in the Pacific Northwest. My colleagues at The Gathering Note, a blog that covers Seattle, Portland, and Chicago, will certainly pick up their pace. Zach Carstensen's most recent posting points out that some newspapers haven't figured out how to address its classical music readership. I am glad that The Oregonian has David Stabler as its regular critic and James McQuillen as its freelancer. The coverage that they give to classical music in the Portland metro area is crucial to the life of arts groups here. I hope that The Oregonian doesn't fall into the trap that is ensnaring many other papers. A healthy dialog about the arts helps to create a vibrant community. That's what I'm trying to foster with this blog. There was a time when most cities had several newspapers and each paper had a music critic. Blogs can help to keep the arts alive and well. There are more classical music groups than ever before in Portland, and it's a shame most receive no coverage at all.