Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
lennygoran
Posts: 15189
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:25 am

There are 100 clips-the first 10 are shown in one of the photos but you can scroll and see all 100 if you can get to the site. Regards, Len

Image

Image

Image

Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

They react by playing an unscheduled work, Elgar’s “Nimrod,” which is often used for deaths and tragedies.

By Michael Cooper

May 31, 2019

For months, the management of the financially struggling Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has tried to negotiate cutting the number of weeks it pays its musicians to 40 weeks from 52. And its players have resisted, arguing that such a move would weaken the quality of the ensemble.

On Thursday afternoon the orchestra’s management announced that it was unilaterally canceling its summer season — which was to have begun with a new music festival on June 19.

So the atmosphere was charged when the orchestra gathered in the evening to play their scheduled concert, Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto, at its hall in Baltimore.

As the concert began, Brian Prechtl, a percussionist who is one of the chairmen of the players’ committee, strode to the front of the stage and announced that the musicians had been shocked that afternoon to learn of the cancellation — and said that the musicians had been told that they would not be paid after June 16. The audience responded with loud boos.

“We are stunned and grieve for our beloved B.S.O.,” Mr. Prechtl said. “We will be making music with even more passion and purpose tonight and for as long as our management keeps the lights on and the doors unlocked.”

Then the players performed an unscheduled selection: Elgar’s “Nimrod,” one of his “Enigma” variations, which orchestras have often performed to mark deaths or tragedies.

Their music director, Marin Alsop, conducted.

“The Baltimore Symphony is a truly great orchestra,” Ms. Alsop said in an email. “Our city deserves this wonderful asset and treasure and I hope for the best for both the B.S.O. and Baltimore.”

Management officials said Friday that they had not reduced the musicians’ paid weeks “at present” even though they had canceled the summer season; they said they would continue to try to negotiate the proposed changes. Orchestra officials said that they needed to make the cuts to stay afloat, after repeatedly running deficits and incurring what they described as $16 million in losses over the last decade.


“These decisions were extremely difficult to make and were not entered into lightly, but they are the right ones if the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is going to continue to exist as a nationally renowned organization,” Peter Kjome, the orchestra’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “If the B.S.O. is going to survive, our business model needs to change, and that change begins in earnest today.”

The orchestra’s management said that it proposed cutting paid weeks mostly during the summer, and by reducing the musicians’ paid vacation to four weeks from nine weeks.

Mr. Prechtl said in an interview on Friday that he was puzzled that management would enact the cuts just after Maryland state lawmakers had approved $3.2 million in aid for the orchestra. He said that if management were to stop paying the musicians, it would effectively be a lockout.

The orchestra’s management noted that a number of large orchestras have cut weeks and said that they continued to uphold high standards. But Mr. Prechtl noted that the orchestra was holding auditions for several positions, and questioned whether it would still be able to attract top talent with a shorter season and all the strife.

The orchestra has undertaken a number of well-received tours in recent years and made a number of acclaimed recordings, including of the work of Leonard Bernstein:




https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/31/arts ... eason.html

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:04 am

A member of the orchestra, Laurie Sokoloff, who plays piccolo, was in CompuServe Music Forum for a while. Another music forum member, John Graves, and I used to go to Baltimore for concerts when Yuri Temirkanov was music director; there was some very fine music making back then. (We're not so interested in the orchestra's current music director, Marin Alsop, and haven't been to Baltimore since she took over.) I believe Laurie retired in recent years, so she may not be affected by all this - hope her pension is intact.
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:02 am

Back in 1987, when David Zinman was conducting the Baltimore Symphony, PBS broadcast a fabulous mix of jazz and classical music coming from Baltimore, featuring the likes of Mel Torme, Dianne Schuur and Wynton Marsalis in cabaret performances interspersed with Richard Stolzman (clarinet) and Mel Torme (on drums!) playing with the orchestra in their home hall. One of the highlights was John Adams's "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" played at midnight by the orchestra. It was a great broadcast, and the orchestra shone under Zinman. He, too, made some very successful recordings, including Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances. Alsop tried to record Brahms, but I became discouraged when I heard Brahms I, and just haven't paid attention since, although her Bernstein series has received some notice. None of her recordings, either with Baltimore or her other orchestra (Sao Paolo in Brazil) TMK has been accorded much appreciation in the press that I've seen.

I wish them well, of course, but lack of funding is affecting the classical music world here in NY as well, and Baltimore is a troubled city at the moment.

lennygoran
Posts: 15189
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jun 01, 2019 7:47 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:04 am
Another music forum member, John Graves, and I used to go to Baltimore for concerts when Yuri Temirkanov was music director
John yes I remember you mentioning that when we were in the CS forum-I never had the chance to meet John Graves. Regards, Len

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:08 am

When Marin Alsop succeeded Yuri Temirkanov as the orchestra's music director, it was expected or at least hoped that she would be able to turn the situation around, both by attracting a larger audience We saw many empty seats at Temirkanov's Sunday concerts) and through community involvement such as in her tenure with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. But according to this story, the orchestra has lost $16 milllion in the last 10 years, all of them on her watch. Perhaps sensing that this ship may be sinking, she has taken on another orchestra in addition to the Baltimore and the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, it's the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, as of the end of her contract in São Paulo. In Vienna at least the state-supported orchestra won't depend on her.

It's past time for a hard conversation about the BSO
Baltimore Sun Editorial Board
May 31, 2019

The long-simmering problems that have long beset the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra bloomed into a full debacle Thursday when the BSO management suddenly canceled a summer concert series just hours before musicians went on stage to perform a Beethoven piano concerto and other works. It was shocking to symphony patrons, musicians who are now faced with a 20 percent pay cut, and lawmakers who thought they had worked out a deal to avoid just such an outcome. Plenty of people share some blame for the way these latest developments went down, but we can’t let the anger of the moment distract us from the big picture reality that the BSO, like orchestras all across the country, faces tremendous financial pressures and must adapt if it is to survive.

BSO management, led by CEO Peter Kjome, deserves some blame for failing, amid the months of discussion about additional state support for the symphony during this year’s legislative session, to make clear just how close to the fiscal edge the orchestra is. It’s no secret that the BSO has been losing money for years — $16 million over the last decade — but the fact that even with the extra funding Del. Maggie McIntosh wrangled the symphony will struggle to meet payroll this summer was not widely understood. Given those circumstances, the announcement in April of an ambitious summer schedule seems foolish.
BSO musicians protest cuts to schedule

Lawmakers thought they were buying the orchestra enough time to re-examine its costs, raise more money for its endowment and develop a sustainable fiscal structure that would not entail sacrifices on this scale for the musicians. If that wasn’t the case, the BSO management should have said so before Thursday. (In fairness to Mr. Kjome, these problems began long before he arrived in Baltimore. At least he’s trying to fix them rather than hoping they’ll miraculously go away.)

It’s clear, though, that the orchestra would be in a much better position if Gov. Larry Hogan had agreed to spend the $3.2 million over two years that Del. Maggie McIntosh and others worked for months to secure in the state budget. Legislators can’t add money to the budget or shift it from one priority to another, but they can make cuts in the governor’s proposal and dictate that the money can only be used for a particular purpose, in this case helping the BSO. But the governor doesn’t have to spend the money. He can leave it in the state’s accounts, and he’s been known to do that before, including a refusal to release millions for schools in Baltimore and elsewhere early in his first term. Why it has taken him months to make up his mind about this expenditure, we have no idea. His indecision and the uncertainty it has caused have exacerbated a bad situation.

As for the musicians, their outrage is understandable. They have been jerked around on the summer season this year, and they have every right to be upset at the prospect of losing a fifth of their pay. Who wouldn’t be? They are world-class artists, and the orchestra’s financial problems can’t be blamed on the quality of their musicianship.
BSO's Prechtl talks about shortened season

But we do need to make a distinction between the current musicians and the orchestra as an institution. Much of the players’ argument has been that the management’s proposal to control costs amounts to shifting the BSO to a part-time orchestra, but the truth is that it would have little impact on the number of concerts each year. The main season, running from September to June, is about 150 concerts now, and it would still be if the management proposal is enacted. The summer season (with the exception of the Oregon Ridge concert on the 4th of July, which Mr. Kjome says he hopes to restore after this year) has never been a core part of the orchestra’s schedule.

The difference is that musicians now get nine weeks of paid vacation per year, and management is proposing four. (Musicians also get two additional weeks of guaranteed relief time so that they can recover from particularly demanding performances.) Musicians would be paid for fewer of the weeks in which they wouldn’t be performing anyway, hence the pay cut.
Some musicians who can get jobs with bigger, better paying orchestras might do so under those circumstances, but the idea that the BSO’s quality would inexorably decline is belied by the experience of orchestras in other cities — Atlanta, St. Louis and Detroit, for example — that have gone through similar financial retrenchments and maintained their artistry and reputations.

Where do we go from here? Governor Hogan needs to release the funds, even if it’s not in time to save the summer season. The BSO’s finances are precarious,and it needs some breathing room while it continues contract negotiations with the musicians. But more state funding isn’t the long-term answer. The BSO is already, by far, the largest recipient of state grants to arts institutions. It needs to take steps to put its books in balance. The state funding bill required the creation of a blue-ribbon commission to examine the BSO’s finances, and that needs to be given time to find cost savings that have a less dire impact on the musicians and the product. Musicians need to be prepared to make some concessions on things like vacation time and health care cost sharing. And finally, Baltimore’s patrons of the arts need to commit to a major capital campaign for the BSO. It compares favorably to its peer orchestras in most respects — annual giving, ticket revenue, etc. — but not in the size of its endowment and hence the amount it can safely draw every year to support operations. If the BSO’s endowment was the size of the St. Louis symphony’s, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

One more thing: Many of the other U.S. symphonies that have gone through a financial crisis like this have only emerged after a lengthy lockout of musicians. For the sake of the BSO’s tradition, of Baltimore’s music lovers and of all the children who benefit from the symphony's educational programs, we hope that won’t happen here.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/ed ... story.html
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:09 am

Well, I'm glad nobody's blaming attendance revenue or Alsop's musical quality at least. Now that the economy has recovered from the crash of 2008, maybe some donors will come up with chunks of cash for the endowment. The truth is that orchestras are expensive, and less and less relevant as interest in the general public seems to dwindle year by year. The only thing that will save Baltimore is a star conductor (Alsop isn't one) like Dudamel, but that's not likely to happen.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:08 pm

I'd say Yuri Temirkanov, Alsop's predecessor in Baltimore, is a star conductor, but in fact attendance fell during his time there, possibly because of his programming (lots of Russian music) and partly because he wasn't into community relations as Alsop is. Friends and I traveled to Baltimore for quite a few of his concerts, attending the weekend matinee, and the hall was seldom as much as half full. His precursor, David Zinman, was no star, but the orchestra did well during his 13 years there.

The basic reason for the orchestra's plight seems to be explained in this article. It seems to be a combination of private fundraising for the endowment having failed, and the governor not releasing money the state legislature has appropriated. The latter can be fixed; the former, maybe not.

The BSO's financial situation was much worse than most people realized, documents and interviews reveal
Mary Carole McCauley
June 14, 2019

Until the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra canceled its summer season, few people outside the nonprofit’s administrative offices realized just how precarious its financial situation was. But when President and CEO Peter Kjome referred to a promised $3.2 million in state funds as “a lifeline,” he wasn’t exaggerating.

Financial documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun and interviews with three of the symphony’s key decision-makers reveal that the organization’s efforts were predicated on the thinnest of margins — and wishful thinking. Without the funds promised by the state to support the summer season, the orchestra would end its fiscal year with an approximately $1.5 million deficit. Even with that money, the symphony would conclude that year on Aug. 31 all but broke — and that’s assuming that the funds were released promptly, that the organization obtained a bridge loan and that nothing else went wrong over the summer...

In hindsight, asking the General Assembly for more money was a desperation move, the classical music equivalent of a Hail Mary pass. From the time Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat, introduced House Bill 1404 in late February, the odds were it wouldn’t achieve its intended goal of keeping the orchestra playing through the summer.

Interviews with Kjome; Barbara Bozzuto, chairwoman of the symphony’s board of directors; and Sarah Beckwith, the organization’s chief financial officer, reveal that the BSO had a tiny window of time after the bill became law to either obtain the state funds or arrange a bridge loan to mount the slate of summer concerts it announced in late April. “We were candid when we talked about the severity of our cash flow issues,” Bozzuto said. “But in retrospect, we could have been even more forceful.”

On May 30, the Symphony abruptly canceled the summer concerts it trumpeted just five weeks earlier. Orchestra management resurrected a proposal to slash its season from 52 weeks to 40 — and hack musicians’ pay roughly 20 percent, leaving 75 people with mortgages or rents, tuition payments and medical bills two weeks to come up with alternate sources of income. Kjome cited $16 million in losses over the past decade.


“We thought we were going to have a lifeline of $1.6 million soon,” Kjome said of the state funding it was due in the state fiscal year starting July 1. “We care deeply about our musicians, but it was necessary to make the decisions we did due to the severity of our financial challenges.”

McIntosh was taken aback when she learned that the summer season had been canceled after weeks of hard work on her part. “At no point did I get that this dramatic action would be taken,” she said. “Nobody ever said that. Everybody was then shocked that as of July 1, they’d run out of money. That was never a part of any discussion.”

A BSO cash forecast dated Dec. 7, shows the arts organization anticipated it would close its fiscal year about $1.2 million in the hole. By April 19, a new cash forecast projected the deficit for the year to increase to $1.51 million, largely because contributions hadn’t kept pace with projections. “Results from contributed revenue this year have been low,” Kjome acknowledged. He said that fundraising for the prior fiscal year, “was extremely strong,” and that several of those donors said they wouldn’t be able to maintain that level of support every year.

(Last summer, the orchestra toured Ireland and the United Kingdom. Funds for the trip did not come from its operating budget but were raised specifically for the tour.)
Greg Mulligan, co-chairman of the BSO Musicians Players Committee, thinks that possible donors were angered by the proposal to shorten the season, which first was discussed last fall. “There have been large donors who have told us that they’re not going to give their legacy gifts to the BSO this year...,” he said. “We think there is money sitting on the sidelines waiting for the contract dispute to be resolved.”

The BSO’s annual operating budget draws roughly $3.6 million a year from its $60 million endowment to support its operations. If the BSO could increase its endowment to $100 million, Kjome has said, it could draw almost $2 million more a year — or roughly the sum needed to break even at the group’s current spending levels, assuming its current donation rate remains constant.

But longtime donor Joseph Meyerhoff II, a member of the symphony’s endowment board, wrote in a letter to the editor that the large donations the BSO needs are nearly impossible to secure. “The Meyerhoff family offered a $4 million challenge grant in 2017-2018 to raise funds for the endowment. We met with or called every large foundation in Baltimore and at least two dozen of Baltimore’s wealthiest citizens. We came away empty-handed. No one was interested in investing more than $250,000 in the BSO, when it needs multi-million-dollar gifts.”

Orchestras nationwide face daunting financial challenges inherent to performing a canon of music composed for a full-sized orchestra of between 70 and 100 musician, said Robert J. Flanagan, professor emeritus in the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. (The BSO’s roster includes 75 players.) “Probably the most fundamental problem that orchestras face is when budgeting isn’t done realistically,” said Flanagan, author of the 2012 book “The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras: Artistic Triumphs and Economic Challenges.” “Instead,” he said, “budgets are based on unrealistic hopes of what the revenues will be rather than what past history shows the revenues are likely to be.”

Flanagan emphasized that he isn’t familiar with the BSO’s finances. But he said that “it’s reasonable to surmise” that an orchestra that has experienced $16 million in losses over the past decade has been hampered by flawed and inaccurate budget assumptions.

After House Bill 1404 passed both houses of the General Assembly, the first-year appropriation of $1.6 million was penciled into the BSO’s forecast, Beckwith said. Had the symphony received the additional state funds, it would have ended its fiscal year with not quite $90,000 in the bank — assuming it could bring in a projected $3.8 million in contributions in the last five months of the fiscal year. For an organization with a $28 million budget, ending the year with so little money is scraping the bottom of the barrel. “We’d have had a very small amount in our operating accounts,” Beckwith acknowledged. “We’d have been able to barely balance the budget.”

Such a tight budget is not unusual in the arts community, said Randy Cohen, vice president of Americans for the Arts. “A lot of arts organizations work very close to the margins. That’s just a fact,” Cohen said. “Every year as much as a third of arts institutions carry some kind of operating deficit.”

Compounding the problem, the symphony had just two months — July and August — to secure the first-year allocation of $1.6 million. Launching the summer season and paying the musicians through it would have required taking advantage of the difference between the state’s and the BSO’s respective fiscal years. The first $1.6 million installment was allocated to be distributed during the state’s 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins July 1. But the Symphony’s current budget year with its anticipated $1.5 million shortfall runs through Aug. 31. If the orchestra either received the $1.6 million in July or August or received a guarantee that the funds would arrive soon, it could have borrowed against its future windfall to meet its “urgent” current obligations, Kjome said.

The symphony’s leaders experienced a surge of optimism May 24, when it became clear that House Bill 1404 was not on Hogan’s final list of vetoes. But their relief was short-lived. “We have had conversations with a number of leaders in Annapolis,” Kjome said. “After the bill became law, there were additional conversations about the timing of when the allocation would be authorized.” The short answer was that it wasn't clear when or even if the $1.6 million would become available. Instead, Kjome, Bozzuto and Beckwith were told that the governor was hesitating to release funds for several projects, of which the BSO’s $1.6 million grant represents just a fraction.


Hogan, speaking at an event Thursday in East Baltimore, said he would “probably not” release the money. He said the orchestra already has received plenty of state assistance, the most of any arts group in the state.

The $1.9 million the orchestra already received this year is more than 74 percent greater than the next highest grant recipient, the Baltimore Museum of Art, according to Michael Ricci, Hogan’s director of communications. Hogan’s administration also provided a $750,000 grant to the symphony last year. Ricci said those funds were intended to be “one-time relief” while the organization made structural changes.

“We continually pour millions and millions of dollars into the BSO, but they’ve got real serious issues and problems with the management, with losing the support of their donor base and the legislature took the money out of the budget and fenced it off,” the Republican governor said. “So I don’t know what the resolution is going to be.”

While House Bill 1404 became law May 28, the BSO board voted unanimously at a special May 29 meeting to cancel the summer concerts and renew efforts to reduce the orchestra from a 52-week to a 40-week ensemble, Bozzuto said. (Whether musicians are paid for a 40-week season or a 52-week season is a matter for contract negotiations. When concerts are scheduled is not.)

Making the situation even more perilous is that the orchestra’s most recent audited financial statements, for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2018, have not yet been released. In that document, which orchestra officials expect to be completed in weeks, the auditors will either declare that the BSO continues to be a “going concern” with sufficient resources to remain in business or it’s not.

A determination that a business or organization is not a going concern is extremely rare, according to J.P. Krahel, an associate professor of accounting at Loyola University Maryland. “Usually an audit is not meant to judge the quality of a business,” Krahel said. “It usually just says that what the business is telling you is honest. The exception is that if the auditors feel the business might not survive, they’ll put a note to that effect in the audit opinion as a warning to potential lenders. It is essentially the kiss of death. It means that the business is already on life support and it would be pulling the plug.”

Kjome said the orchestra is in discussions to borrow $1 million from the state to support its current operations. “It is very important to all of us that when our audited financial statement is issued that it reflect the fact that the BSO will continue to serve our community and operate for many years to come,” he said.

The musicians, meanwhile, fear the paycheck they received Friday will be their last until the fall and health insurance will run out July 1. Austin Larson, a horn player for the orchestra, said musicians initially were dumbfounded and then furious by the news of the summer season’s cancellation.“The musicians went through such great lengths to get this bridge funding through to help the orchestra out,” he said. “The whole idea behind the bill was to keep the orchestra playing. How can we trust management in the future after they have betrayed us like this?”

https://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainm ... story.html
John Francis

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:45 pm

The Baltimore Symphony, Seeking Cuts, Locks Out Its Musicians
By Michael Cooper
June 17, 2019

The cash-strapped Baltimore Symphony Orchestra locked out its musicians on Monday, as it sought to pressure the players into agreeing to a new contract with fewer paid weeks of work.

“Due to the Baltimore Symphony’s urgent need to address longstanding financial issues and change its business model, the B.S.O. has made this extremely difficult decision,” Peter Kjome, the orchestra’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/17/arts ... ion%2Farts
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:26 am

Cutting the orchestra's season from 52 weeks to 40 really does downgrade the group, I'm afraid.

Incidentally, I disagree with you about David Zinman: he's an excellent conductor in repertoire from Beethoven to Rachmaninoff, with fine attention to detail, tempo and energy level in whatever he leads: his Beethoven recordings are quite good, both symphonies and concerti. He led one of my competition winners as Tosca in a summer appearance out West and she reported to me that she was very surprised by his knowledge of the opera and confidence during preparation.

As for Temirkanov, I'm not surprised by his success in Russian music, but I've never heard him be successful in other repertoire. My knowledge of him is limited, so I'll defer to your judgement there. The few recordings I have simply did not impress me, however.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:52 pm

However excellent David Zinman may be, he isn't and never has been a "star conductor," which you said is what the orchestra needs. My point is that the orchestra did well under Zinman even though he's not a star conductor, and likewise under Zinman's predecessor Sergiu Comissiona. It's only when they somehow induced a bona fide star conductor, Yuri Temirkanov, to be their music director that their financial troubles began - not least because of bad box office, at least at the concerts I attended in Baltimore.

As for Temirkanov, he conducted an excellent Brahms 4th symphony in Baltimore and also with the New York Philharmonic, and his concerto partnerships in Baltimore with Lang Lang and Kissin were very fine, I thought. He developed a Russian sound in the orchestra, partly by adding an 8th double bass in all repertoire after the 18th century. That sound, and the extra double bass, went away when he did.

No Brahms 4 on YouTube, but here, of all things, is a lovely "Barber of Seville" overture, with expressive rubato in the opening pages and subtle dynamic shading throughout.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlrqdMXM0u0

Another of Temirkanov's virtues is that he could bring out the best in the orchestras he conducted. This was certainly evident in Baltimore, but he also conducted the student orchestra of the Manhattan College of Music in a reading of Shostakovich 10, the first two movements, and while their playing was merely competent when he began, he soon had them playing brilliantly, notably in the scherzo. They were helped by a few ringers from the St. Petersburg Philharmonic which was giving concerts with Temirkanov at Carnegie Hall, notably the concertmaster, but nearly all of them were Manhattan College students.

Unfortunately that wasn't filmed, or if it was then the film hasn't circulated. But here's Temirkanov conducting another orchestra of young musicians at the Verbier Festival in the finale of Shostakovich 10:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGM52pSteyY

It depresses me, though perhaps it doesn't surprise me, that Baltimore's music lovers wouldn't support this kind of music-making by their own orchestra. Perhaps Baltimore today doesn't deserve to have their own orchestra.
John Francis

Rach3
Posts: 1495
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:17 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by Rach3 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:41 am

Does not appear getting closer to a resolution:

https://slippedisc.com/2019/06/baltimor ... ity-cover/

lennygoran
Posts: 15189
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:50 am

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image



Can Baltimore Save Its World-Class Orchestra?


It teaches music to children in troubled neighborhoods and helped its city heal after riots. But the Baltimore Symphony is in crisis.

By Michael Cooper

July 1, 2019

BALTIMORE — When violent unrest spread through the streets of Baltimore in 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray, an African-American man who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody, the Baltimore Orioles took the extraordinary step of playing in an empty stadium, barring fans because of safety concerns.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra sent a different message: Its musicians gathered on the sidewalk in front of their concert hall to perform Handel, Bach and Beethoven to a crowd of hundreds seeking solace at a scarring moment.

The musicians are now back on that same stretch of sidewalk — walking a picket line. On June 17, the orchestra’s management, citing fiscal pressures, locked the players out without pay to try to pressure them to agree to a contract guaranteeing fewer weeks of work. The sounds at the hall last week were of protesters’ drums, bullhorn chants and passing cars honking support.
Sign up for the Louder Newsletter

Stay on top of the latest in pop and jazz with reviews, interviews, podcasts and more from The New York Times music critics.

“Don’t Lose Your BSO, Hon,” read one sign with local flavor.


The showdown raises all too familiar questions about how venerable ensembles will survive, let alone thrive, in an era when classical music faces stiff financial headwinds. But the labor strife has been especially dispiriting in Baltimore, a city whose woes need no recitation but which had always seen its orchestra as an embodiment of its pluck.

Founded in 1916 by the city itself, as a branch of its municipal government, the orchestra later reorganized along more traditional lines. Since 1982 it has played at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, a rounded, red-brown brick building a short walk from Pennsylvania Station that was constructed during an era of expanding ambitions.

Mr. Meyerhoff was once the orchestra’s biggest benefactor, and his family remains a major supporter. But much of the area’s philanthropy today is directed to education, health and economic issues, in a city that faces deep pockets of poverty and problems including lack of heat in some schools last year and a water main break last month that left public housing residents without water for days.

“For the small donor, there are so many other crying needs,” said Heather Joslyn, a former senior editor at The Chronicle of Philanthropy who lives in Baltimore.

Even with inadequate support, the Baltimore Symphony has managed to punch above its weight in recent years. Under the musical leadership of Marin Alsop, the only female music director of a major American orchestra, it has embraced more daring programming, made acclaimed recordings, and, last year, toured Europe. And it has creatively reached out to its community, starting OrchKids, which offers music instruction, homework tutors, after-school snacks and dinner to more than 1,300 children in neighborhoods that struggle with poverty and violence.


“It’s horrible,” lamented Marge Penhallegon, 76, a retired elementary school music teacher who began taking her students to hear the orchestra more than 50 years ago and later became an active supporter and volunteer, as she watched the musicians march outside the hall. “This city needs the culture it can provide. It fills your soul.”

The players warn that the proposed cuts — which would lower their base pay to less than half of what it is at the National Symphony Orchestra, in neighboring Washington — would weaken their ties to the community and make it harder for them to attract and retain talent. “We’re losing musicians to better-paying orchestras,” Greg Mulligan, a violinist who is one of the two chairmen of the orchestra’s negotiating committee, said.


But management has said the cuts are desperately needed. It said that the orchestra faced such a cash crunch in May that it had to borrow $2.3 million from its endowment, in part to make its May 31 payroll — its second large borrowing from the endowment in recent years. Peter T. Kjome, the orchestra’s president and chief executive officer, said in an interview that a recent strategic planning process had determined that “our current financial model could not support the mission and vision of the Baltimore Symphony as currently conceived.”

In recent years orchestras around the country have argued that they must curb their rising costs if they are to survive in a new era, in which they now rely on philanthropic donations for more of their annual revenue than ticket sales.

Some orchestras have gotten smaller. Others, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and, this year, the storied Chicago Symphony Orchestra, have shifted from pensions to plans similar to a 401(k).

And some, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony, have moved away from 52-week contracts, saying that there was not enough demand for year-round concerts. The length of the season has become a flash point in Baltimore: Management wants to reduce the musicians’ paid weeks of work to 40, from the current 52.

The musicians pointed out that their current year-round base salary in Baltimore, nearly $83,000, is already lower than the base salaries at those orchestras in Detroit and St. Louis, which have shorter seasons. The reduction in weeks, coupled with a demand that they contribute more for health coverage, would cut their pay by roughly a fifth, making it harder, they say, to attract top talent.


Jesse Rosen, the president of the League of American Orchestras, said that the trouble in Baltimore was especially dispiriting given how forward-looking the ensemble has been.

“It’s one thing if you look at an orchestra that’s kind of treading water artistically,” he said in an interview. “But that’s not the case with Baltimore. They’ve really been at the forefront.”

Joseph Meyerhoff II, a trustee of the orchestra’s endowment, recounted last week how Baltimore had changed since the years when his grandfather, a wealthy developer, was chairman of the board.

He rattled off a list of corporations and local banks that were lost to mergers, sales, closures and headquarters relocations — the disappearance of a network of institutions that used to pitch in to cover the orchestra’s deficits or extend credit. “They understood the civic responsibility that corporations have,” he said.

There is new wealth in the region, and plenty of philanthropy, though it is mostly aimed elsewhere. Last year Johns Hopkins University received a $1.8 billion donation from one alumnus, Michael Bloomberg, to support financial aid, including $50 million for students at the university’s music school.

When Mr. Meyerhoff’s family recently offered a $4 million challenge grant to match large donations to the orchestra’s endowment, he said, they met with many of the area’s wealthiest citizens and foundations. But they got no offers for any single gifts of more than $250,000. Now they are trying again, offering a $5 million challenge grant, on the condition that $45 million is raised for the endowment.
There is still robust philanthropy in Baltimore. But not for all of its traditional classical music institutions.CreditShawn Hubbard for The New York Times

Some of the city’s cultural institutions have folded: The Baltimore Opera Company, established in 1950 and once led by the soprano Rosa Ponselle, with stars including Plácido Domingo, Birgit Nilsson and Beverly Sills, shut down in 2009. Last year Concert Artists of Baltimore, an orchestra and chorus, closed after three decades.

In 2005 the Baltimore Symphony expanded into a second home: the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Md., a suburb of Washington, where it plays between 30 and 40 concerts a year. While attendance there has been fairly strong, the orchestra has not succeeded in tapping as many new donors in the Washington suburbs as it had hoped.

The orchestra has been raising money, but not as much as officials say is needed. (It is possible, though: this spring the Philadelphia Orchestra, whose fiscal woes drove it to bankruptcy in 2011, announced a $55 million gift.)

The current crisis struck in May, when orchestra officials learned that they would probably not be getting $1.6 million in emergency state aid that Maryland lawmakers had approved, but which the governor, Larry Hogan, has been reluctant to release. The orchestra canceled its summer season, which it had only recently announced, and soon after locked out the players.

The lockout is a major hardship for many of the musicians, who face mortgage payments, student loan payments for younger players, and children’s tuition payments for older ones. Lisa Steltenpohl, 35, its principal violist, said that she had been looking into taking out a home-equity loan to make ends meet. Schuyler Jackson, a 27-year-old bassoonist, said that he had monthly payments of $450 on the $32,000 instrument he bought to play in the orchestra, on top of steep student loans. “It’s really scary,” he said.

Music directors generally try to stay above the fray in labor disputes. But when asked about the lockout, Ms. Alsop sounded a note of caution.

“We need to invest in the world-class institutions we do have in Baltimore rather than cutting the things that make our city great,” she said in an email. “I urge all sides to engage in constructive dialogue to ensure that Baltimore continues to have the great orchestra it needs and deserves.”



https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/arts ... ckout.html

Rach3
Posts: 1495
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:17 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by Rach3 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:02 am

Thanks for this article. $83K is certainly not excessive. Does the Governor think most of the orchestra members are Democrats ?

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:20 am

Rach3 wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:02 am
Thanks for this article. $83K is certainly not excessive. Does the Governor think most of the orchestra members are Democrats ?
Sadly, without support from donors, orchestras have become too expensive to maintain. Perhaps Baltimore has degenerated to the point where they no longer deserve to have an orchestra. That would be tragic, as even Nashville now has a fine ensemble, and Pittsburgh has been revitalized by Honeck. Baltimore needs a better conductor than Alsop IMHO, and more philanthropy, neither of which look like they're coming down the turnpike.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:08 pm

He's a Republican, of course.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan won't release funds for symphony, school construction, Baltimore youth jobs
By Luke Broadwater
Jul 03, 2019

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that he would not release $245 million the legislature put into the state budget for various projects — including school construction, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and summer jobs for Baltimore youth. Though the General Assembly approved a balanced budget as required by the Maryland Constitution, Hogan argued the state shouldn’t fund the legislature’s priorities because of a possible $960 million shortfall next year.

His decision prevents the release of $127 million for school construction, raises for correctional officers and hundreds of thousands of dollars for community colleges in Hagerstown and Prince George’s County. Other funds being withheld are $2.5 million for a rapid transit project in Southern Maryland, $750,000 for a prescription drug affordability board, and $200,000 to expand Maryland’s free tax preparation and filing services for poor people.

“We pledged to bring fiscal restraint to Annapolis and we have,” said Hogan, a Republican. He accused Democrats in the General Assembly of being “reckless” and playing “budgetary shell games,” saying the legislature should not have cut $90 million from the state’s “rainy day fund” and $50 million from the pension fund.

Even so, Hogan said he is instructing state agencies to look for ways to fund public safety and health programs by finding savings — without using the money set aside by the Assembly. The governor pledged agencies would find a way to pay for $7 million in technology upgrades for the Baltimore Police Department and $3.5 million for testing rape kits as requested by the legislature.

The governor’s announcement drew backlash from Democrats, who argued he is endangering vital programs. State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp expressed disappointment with Hogan’s decision. Kopp suggested Hogan simply didn’t like Democrats making changes to his budget — even though the budget the Assembly approved is slightly smaller than Hogan’s original proposal. “Governors never like legislatures putting their imprimatur on the budget,” Kopp said. “It’s not the governor’s budget. It’s not the legislature’s budget. It’s the state budget.”

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Calvert County Democrat, said he would urge Hogan to change his mind. “I am extremely disappointed that the governor is not choosing to fund many worthy projects, including some that were originally in his proposed budget, and some that were added based off testimony from many Marylanders to the legislature,” Miller said in a statement.

Miller met with Hogan last week, asking him to release the money. “Based on my conversation with the governor, I was under the impression that he intended to review the list closely and that deserving projects would proceed with funding,” Miller said. “While the governor has made his announcement today, he is certainly allowed to change his mind.”..

Sen. J.B. Jennings, a Harford County Republican who is Senate minority leader, said he believed Hogan would come up with the money needed for important public safety programs. Jennings said other items funded by the Assembly were wasteful. Jennings argued, for instance, that $1.6 million from the state for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra would do little to resolve its problems. The BSO is in dire fiscal straits, and management has locked out musicians as both sides attempt to negotiate a new contract.

“With regards to the BSO, they are way out of touch with where they need to be fiscally,” Jennings said. “The governor had no alternative. He is going to come in and trim and make sure the important stuff gets funded.”..

https://www.baltimoresun.com/politics/b ... story.html
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:31 pm

Indeed!

Elections do have consequences, don't they......

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:02 pm

There's a voice we need to hear from as the BSO crisis goes on
Tim Smith
July 29, 2019

As the dreadful situation at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra continues — which is to say, inside the Meyerhoff for staff, on the sidewalks for the locked out musicians — I wonder if things will get even worse come September. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more than the gala concert canceled before some sort of agreement is reached. If an agreement is ever reached.

Seems to me something has to be done very soon to move the needle out of its stuck groove. And the ravings of a certain cretin in Washington provide an extra-compelling reason to do so. The last thing Baltimore needs now is any sign of decay or failure; ensuring that a great orchestra can thrive here amid the rats would be the best revenge.

I think there’s one person who can cause a major shift in the BSO's fate, the one person who stands to lose a heckuva lot (not just a hefty salary) if the BSO becomes a lesser version of its current self, or goes out of business altogether. This happens to be the only person associated with the BSO who commands a global stage, someone whose words and actions would be noticed widely.

Yep, Marin Alsop, I’m talkin’ to you.

Her appearance over the weekend on NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” — the BSO was mentioned, but not its troubles — reminded me that the one important voice we have not heard from around here, not to any substantive degree, since all of this lamentable strife began is Alsop’s.

I had hoped my little hint a few weeks ago, in a blog post about what happened at the Florida Philharmonic in the 1990s, might spark her into action. Maybe I was too subtle. When I wrote about music director James Judd deciding to drop everything and directly trying to salvage a wounded orchestra, it was with a barely concealed hope that Alsop would take a similarly bold and public stand.

I could also have written about the brave Osmo Vänskä, who did not hesitate to side openly with the players when the Minnesota Orchestra's management, pointing to deficits, demanded big cuts from the musicians. There was a lockout (it lasted 16 months, by the way, which explains why I worry about more than losing the September gala). Vanska resigned in protest, but was eventually rehired, by which point the walkout-engineering CEO was ousted and the orchestra was poised to recover lost ground.

The standard argument goes that music directors should remain neutral. Vänskä and Judd proved the value of tossing such rigid thinking out the window. Alsop should follow their lead by making it clear that she cannot stay on the sidelines any longer as the very fundamentals of the BSO are being challenged. (If she’s playing a behind-the-scenes role, that would be great, but I just don’t see how being in the shadows could help much when things have become so disheartening.)

Alsop relocated with her family to Baltimore years ago. She’s not a fly-in-and-out music director. She has demonstrated commitment not only to the orchestra, but also the community, as OrchKids underlines. If anyone has the stature and the right to say enough is enough, it’s Alsop. She sure has the strong personality required to shift the dynamics, maybe even get people to change their tune. If she were to declare that we’re going to get this thing sorted once and for all, that we’re going to save the BSO we all know and love, not pave the way for some diluted brand, folks would listen. They might even start to pledge the new financial support needed to turn the institution around.

I know that some will argue that Alsop shares in the blame for money losses over the years, having programmed some expensive repertoire. But if that’s the best you’ve got against her, forget it. Any self-respecting music director programs challenging, non-box-office-gold fare. Besides, I know some Alsop proposals were turned down along the way because of money concerns; I don’t think she ever had carte blanche.

I also know that some folks will argue that Alsop has not been a huge donation magnate before, so why would that change now? (Temirkanov didn’t attract any massive funding, either, but people conveniently ignore that when rhapsodizing about the undeniable musical glories of his tenure.) I don’t think there are very many music directors whose presence generates tons of contributions. The overall product is what counts, and the BSO has for a long while been a very respectable product, one deserving of much more financial backing than it has received.

Were she to get personally involved in crusading for greater appreciation and underwriting of the BSO, Alsop would have to be met with respect and attention, I believe. She could point to a lot of good things that have happened on her watch — a resurgence of recordings after years without any; an overseas tour, likewise after a long hiatus; multiple commissions and co-commissions for new works; etc. She has done her share to honor the long, distinguished legacy of the century-old BSO, so she has a stake in making sure that legacy isn't diminished.

Perhaps Alsop already expects to ease out of Baltimore (there has been no word about extending her contract). Perhaps she doesn’t want to rub good people the wrong way. Perhaps she doesn’t see a positive side to butting in and butting heads. But she has always been a fighter, has always gone up against odds and expectations. Why not apply those experiences to this crisis?

Alsop made history when she took the job as music director here. Imagine the history she could make if she now set out to fuel new thinking and strategies, to rally the community and fuse fresh alliances, to rescue the beleaguered BSO before it’s too late.

https://bytimsmith.com/f/theres-a-voice ... is-goes-on
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:04 pm

Tim Smith makes a good point. Part of the reason Alsop was engaged was that she was a very vocal advocate for classical music and would be so for the orchestra in particular. So where is she now?

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:16 am

When Orchestra’s Falter, Where are the Music Directors?
By Leonard Slatkin
August 6, 2019

1968, 1979 and 2008. At some point during those three years, orchestras that I was affiliated with went on strike. The first occurred when I was just a kid, in my debut year as assistant conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony. The second took place in my initial season as that orchestra’s music director and the last was during the early period when I led the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Over the course of more than fifty years, I have seen labor strife take its toll, not only on my ensembles, but with the majority of major orchestras in the United States. Whether Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Atlanta and now, Baltimore, these periods of loss are profound setbacks for everyone. The musicians lose salaries and benefits, the Boards of Directors lose credibility with donors and sponsors, and the public loses the music.

In virtually every case, there lurks a question that each musical leader must ask themselves: Should I get involved or stay on the sidelines? It is a valid query, but one that is filled with potential peril, no matter which path the conductor chooses. Disputes over the past decade have shown both sides of this decision and its aftermath.

For me, the first time around was simple. I had no idea what was going on and as an assistant, really could not do anything. The strike that occurred in my first season as leader in St. Louis also happened to coincide with the orchestra’s 100th anniversary. Huge amounts of money were at stake, as galas, fundraisers and a stellar season were all in jeopardy, and many events cancelled, I remained silent but often wondered how long I could hold out being speechless. It was over in six weeks and my voice was never heard.

Then came Detroit, with a paralyzing six-month work stoppage. In the very early stages of the strike, I tried to conciliate by offering to do some performances with the members of the orchestra, who were putting on their own concerts in neighboring suburbs. It appeared that this might work but ultimately, the orchestra did not agree to the terms that I laid out for any such appearance.

During this half year, I was harassed by several members of other orchestras, where I was guest conducting. Sometimes there were picket lines outside the halls prior to my concerts. In some cases, members of my Detroit ensemble had been engaged by these groups as substitute musicians. Various orchestra members would come to my dressing room, begging me to step in on behalf of the DSO musicians. A few orchestras wore wristbands or sported t-shirts with the name Detroit emblazoned on the front.

I stood my ground. Why?

Usually the reason I gave was that the music director was caught somewhere in the middle. Answerable to the Board but also having to lead the orchestra meant that coming down on one side or the other could cause more harm than good. Unspoken was the true rationale, and one that has been missing during each and every dispute. And this thinking has been playing out, in my opinion, time and time again.

Whenever the musical head of an organization takes the side of the orchestra or board, he or she has no impact whatsoever on the result of any negotiations between labor and management!

Yes, it looks good to side with the musicians, but all of us who lead orchestras automatically want our players to do better in every aspect of the profession. But the music director has absolutely no say in anything related to the contract between the American Federation of Musicians and the Board of Directors. We are never asked to come to the table to discuss artistic matters that are contained in the document that we must live by. We are usually not members of the Union. We are not eligible for the pension plans that tenured orchestral musicians accrue.

The music director is the leading artistic voice in almost every community. They come up with initiatives, build their ensembles, engage in fund raising activities and devote their hearts and souls to the orchestras they lead. Even when we are conducting orchestras other than our own, we are constantly thinking about our musical home base.

With this kind of commitment, does it really make any sense for the music director not to have a voice in the future of his or her group? Conductors need to be musical visionaries but also fiscal realists. Perhaps it is just a small step, but I would argue that making that person who stands on the podium part of the process could be the start of a meaningful dialogue. And at the very least, everyone would know that the music director is there.

https://bytimsmith.com/f/leonard-slatki ... bor-unrest
John Francis

Ricordanza
Posts: 1852
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2005 4:58 am
Location: Southern New Jersey, USA

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by Ricordanza » Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:49 am

With this kind of commitment, does it really make any sense for the music director not to have a voice in the future of his or her group? Conductors need to be musical visionaries but also fiscal realists. Perhaps it is just a small step, but I would argue that making that person who stands on the podium part of the process could be the start of a meaningful dialogue. And at the very least, everyone would know that the music director is there.
I'm not sure what Leonard Slatkin is advocating here. In labor negotiations, there are two sides: union and management. Which team does he think that the music director should join? Sometimes a neutral is involved, namely, a mediator. The most successful mediators are trained professionals who are NOT affiliated with one side or the other. Is he suggesting that the music director serve as a mediator?

My reading of this is that Slatkin is frustrated that he is left out of "the process" but does not have a clear idea how to relieve that frustration.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:59 am

Ricordanza wrote: Which team does he think that the music director should join? Sometimes a neutral is involved, namely, a mediator.
If not a mediator, then an involved and knowledgeable representative of both "teams" who is respected and trusted by both. Whether such a setup would actually make a difference, nobody knows, since apparently it hasn't been tried. Anyway, it would seem to let Marin Alsop off the hook.
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:46 pm

It looks to me that Slatkin is trying to have it both ways here, and is refusing to take sides. He speaks of beings harassed by musicians for not taking a stand. Well, I, for one, am invariably on the musicians' side of things in such situations, FWIW.

If I were in such a situation, I would donate my services to a fundraising concert for the orchestra pension fund to show solidarity.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:04 pm

Slatkin's argument is that taking either side does no good in actually resolving the strike. What purpose is served, then, by taking sides against the orchestra's board of directors, if it doesn't really help the players? It's just rhetoric. Better, then, to stand back, conduct any concerts the players may organize, and wait and see if an opening happens where he might make an effective difference. That appears to be his view, anyway. I don't have an opinion myself.
John Francis

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:53 am

5 things we can learn from problems at BSO and elsewhere.
By Mary Carole McCauley
Aug 05, 2019 | 5:00 AM

1) Symphonies will always cost more than they earn

U.S. symphonies are hampered by a structural flaw. Even the most frugal and well-managed classical ensembles will continue to spend more money than they generate. Symphonies suffer from the so-called “cost disease” in which their greatest expense — salaries — tends to rise to keep pace with the cost of living, but can’t be offset by technological advances that increase worker productivity. It is impossible, for instance, to perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 with fewer musicians than were required when the piece was composed around 1808. As a result, symphonies’ standard business model (up to 100 salaried musicians perform the classical music repertoire inside an acoustically pristine hall for a wealthy and well-educated audience) — is incomplete and must evolve.

2) Involve the players in decision-making

A critical first step in making symphonies profitable is establishing a positive working relationship between musicians and management by (for example) including them more in decision-making, according to the leaders of the Phoenix, Detroit and Minnesota orchestras. Uniting the organizations, they say, sets the stage for future success. “Not everyone is always going to like everything we do,” said Erik Ronmark, vice president and general manager of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. “But at least they’ll understand why we are making the decisions we are.”

3) Make responding to problems in the community a priority

The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra performs in homeless shelters and conducts research into the effect of music on the stress levels of patients with Alzehimer’s disease.

The Detroit Symphony, determined to become “the most accessible symphony on the planet,” is the only major orchestra in the U.S. to live-stream every classical concert for free. The DSO also conducts performances in seven neighborhoods in which its audiences lives.

The Minnesota Orchestra because the first U.S. symphony to tour Cuba after hostilities between the two nations began to thaw, with the goal of using music to bridge the cultural divide.

These programs generated enormous goodwill for the organizations and aided their bottom lines by opening up previously unavailable sources of revenue.

4) Accompany wage cuts with a vision for the future

As onerous as pay cuts are, they can’t always be avoided. The rebirths of all three orchestras required financial sacrifices by the musicians. But the reductions became palatable by being coupled with a clearly communicated vision for the future that the players could embrace. Instead of being asked to permanently reduce their expectations, the performers were encouraged to expand them. Previously feuding factions within the organization pulled together once they had a common goal and a reason to hope.

5) Labor strife is not inevitable

In all three cases, the salary reductions rebounded to their pre-crisis levels within a few years. Since then, the pay for musicians at all three organizations has increased — in some cases slowly, but always steadily. Now, contracts with the unionized workers at all three organizations frequently are reached months before existing collective bargaining agreements expire. None of the three has experienced renewed labor strife.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainm ... story.html
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:55 am

Symphonies will always cost more than they earn.
How sad and how true, if we are to pay musicians the salaries they deserve and earn. Many half-baked conductors, however, earn far more than they are worth. Other excellent conductors who make guest appearances can be far more effective than the mediocre permanent conductor, and they get paid far less per concert.

Last night, I watched Dudamel conduct a concert of American music (from memory, no less) with the Vienna Philharmonic, and noticed that he had trained them to play on the beat, rather than behind. There was only one chord (the final one in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue w/Yuja Wang)) that fell apart, and that was Dudamel's fault for not being clear. Excellent concert.

Solving the money problem for American orchestras means more (volunteer?) outreach (to schools, etc.) to increase their value to the community and, perhaps, fewer concerts, so that concerts become special events, rather than a weekly routine. More accessible contemporary music would also help, IMHO.

Rach3
Posts: 1495
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:17 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by Rach3 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:55 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:55 am
Solving the money problem for American orchestras means more (volunteer?) outreach (to schools, etc.) to increase their value to the community and, perhaps, fewer concerts, so that concerts become special events, rather than a weekly routine.
With a Government which exposes Bristol Bay, Alaska to mining ops, still has a 40 % National approval rating moron as President,both of whom imprison migrant children, American orchestras' money problems and the arts in general are irrelevant to anyone except the few who post here.

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:40 am

Rach3 wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:55 pm
maestrob wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:55 am
Solving the money problem for American orchestras means more (volunteer?) outreach (to schools, etc.) to increase their value to the community and, perhaps, fewer concerts, so that concerts become special events, rather than a weekly routine.
With a Government which exposes Bristol Bay, Alaska to mining ops, still has a 40 % National approval rating moron as President,both of whom imprison migrant children, American orchestras' money problems and the arts in general are irrelevant to anyone except the few who post here.
Hmmmmmmmmmm..............

I'd say that the musicians involved in playing with major ensembles (such as my French horn playing nephew) would disagree with you. :)

Rach3
Posts: 1495
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:17 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by Rach3 » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:26 pm

Yes, you are correct, of course, I spoke too broadly.The musicians, others have big stakes in solving the "money problem". Unfortunately, as always, a small % of the population , and not likely to gain a more sympathetic ear from present government.

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by John F » Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:59 pm

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians reach tentative agreement with management, could perform Friday
By Mary Carole McCauley
Sep 21, 2019

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and its musicians announced Saturday that they have reached a tentative agreement on a one-year contract that could return the performers to the stage at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall as early as next week. No details of the proposed contract will be released before the ratification vote, which is scheduled for Monday.

A brief, joint statement by the BSO and the Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore Local 40-543 said that if both the players’ union and the BSO’s board of directors vote to sign the contract “it would enable the Baltimore Symphony to open its concert season“ next weekend.

A marathon bargaining session aimed at ending the 13-week work stoppage wrapped up at about 10 p.m. Friday.

The symphony’s board of trustees voted June 16 to lock the performers out. The lockout was lifted on Sept. 9; two days later, instead of showing up for rehearsal, the musicians were on the picket line. The players have said repeatedly they would not return to work without a contract.


The labor dispute was exacerbated by the BSO’s dire financial straits, reflected in an audit released this summer that concluded the organization might not have enough money to remain in business for another year. The biggest stumbling block in contract talks had been management’s demand that the season be shortened from 52 weeks to 40. In management’s initial contract proposal, that shorter season would have been accompanied by a 20% pay cut for the 77 musicians. Other knotty issues included the musicians’ contributions for health insurance and the number of performers the BSO must employ. Under the musicians’ most recent contract, which expired in January, the minimum number of violinists, oboists and other players was set at 83.

Before contract talks broke down Sept. 9, management had presented two offers that it said would have guaranteed the musicians’ base pay at somewhere between $81,415 and $85,071 for a 40-week season — or roughly equivalent to the $82,742 base pay the performers received under their most recent contract. That included more than $1 million in promised donations to the BSO from local philanthropists, on the condition that the funds be used for the musicians’ salaries and to secure a contract.

The musicians “overwhelmingly” rejected both contract proposals one day later. Brian Prechtl, co-chairman of the Players Committee, said later that union members had been advised by their attorney that management’s proposal was phrased in such a way that they couldn’t be certain of receiving more than a base salary of $70,600.

Official negotiations ceased for 10 days, but informal talks continued through back channels. Once both sides returned to the bargaining table on Thursday, they began to make more rapid progress.

If the contract is approved, the BSO will perform Pyotr Tchaikovsky‘s Symphony No. 4 at the Meyerhoff at 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday, and at the Music Center at Strathmore at 8 p.m. Saturday. Also on the program is the overture to Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, “La Forza Del Destino,” featuring the composer and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain making his BSO debut. The program is scheduled to be conducted by the BSO’s music director, Marin Alsop.

https://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainm ... story.html
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 6526
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Baltimore Symphony Musicians Are ‘Stunned’ After Concerts Are Canceled

Post by maestrob » Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:24 am

Well, something is better than nothing. Thanks for letting us know, John.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 23 guests