Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

The $50 million lobby for a locked-out orchestra
In the outside world:  the music has died in the Twin Cities...

Orchestras here and abroad remain on the brink.  Both the the mighty (I insist) Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra have locked out their players due to financial issues all while the former spends $50 million on a new lobby for Orchestra Hall.  Drew McManus has written extensively in his Adaptistration blog about the mess, including a down to the word analysis of the proposed master agreement (the red line version).  Recently Bill Eddins, in his Sticks and Drones, has offered his final words on the matter.

To the Minnesota Orchestra Association (management), he states that they must reverse their current path and,
  1. Fire the Executive Director and immediately re-open negotiations with the musicians with the help of an independent arbitrator; or
  2. Resign en masse.
To the players of the Minnesota Orchestra, he offers,

If neither of the above actions happen then I fear that your careers as true artists with this particular organization are over. Those of you who can leave, leave, whether by retirement, audition, or whatever other method is open to you. There may still be a paycheck here at the M.O. but there is little doubt in my mind that it would be soul-sucking.

To music director Osmo Vanska:

....if the board does not do a volta-face then the only way for you to keep your artistic honor is to resign as Music Director of this orchestra. There will certainly be nothing left for you here but an utterly demoralized collection of unhappy and disgruntled people looking for a way out. Your artistic vision will always be 2nd place to the smooth functioning of the “corporation.” You have no need to be a part of this. You are better than this.

(Eddins is Music Director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and a former assistant conductor with the Chicago Symphony.  He is currently a resident of the Twin Cities.)

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Robert and Clara
Norman Lebrecht has reviewed Martin Geck's new biography of Robert Schumann in the Wall Street Journal.  His comments can be found here.

Who couldn't be drawn to a text described thus?

The marriage produced eight children and a fresh set of romantic stereotypes—of a couple united in tender devotion and tempestuous passion. No musical marriage is so exhaustively chronicled. The Schumanns kept a joint diary with alternate entries, marking with an f-like symbol the nights they made love. The diaries were written to be read by posterity.

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Closer to home and around the dinner table on Sunday evening...

Following an extremely successful (in terms of both quality and size of audience--our largest in six years!) Quad City Wind Ensemble concert, many of us gathered for a post-performance meal.  Discussion eventually turned toward local musical matters, including the operations of several of the area's regional orchestras.  Two of the ensembles in question appear to be cramming their rehearsal and performance schedules into fewer days, causing more than a bit of angst from the players.  The management/music directors from these ensembles refuse to accept that both orchestras glean musicians from the same pool.  Whenever someone is not available (because of a service with the other), the orchestra simply hires someone else on the sub list.  The end result is an orchestra that never has the same players (and it's not even close) from concert to concert.

One of the music directors maintains a permanent residence far from the orchestra's base and seems to be using his home (and the musicians around it) as a potential pool for additional players.  Of course, one must take into account the amount of money the orchestra is paying for mileage (I don't know the distance, but can vouch that it is more than a six-hour drive!) rather than staying closer to home.  And this from an orchestra that was unhappy with its previous Music Director because he lived less than three hours away!  I don't understand....maybe I'm not supposed to.

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The funding is in from (I can't recall whom) and we are proceeding with plans for our "all women composers" QCWE concert on March 3.  The program will include the following:

Ann McGinty:  To Keep Thine Honor Bright 
Jennifer Higdon:  Oboe Concerto, featuring our outstanding principal oboe, Mark Fitkin

Nancy Galbraith: Danza de los Duendes 

Tania Leon:  Alegre 

Shelley Hanson: Dances with Winds
I.               Gaida
II.             Irish Star
III.           Serbian Dance

Julie Giroux:  Vigils Keep

I remain continually excited about the prospects for this concert as well as our April closer, a tribute to the "greatest generation" of wind band composers.  Stay tuned for more information as the days draw nigh.

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That's enough thinking for one Thursday.  I have orchestra parts to bow.