Romanstein Out, Eyes Turn to the WAC

Well.  Yesterday, Stanley Romanstein resigned as President and CEO from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO). I did not see that coming. But given the fact that the ASO labor dispute has almost exactly paralleled that of the Minnesota Orchestra, albeit under an astonishingly compressed time frame… perhaps I should have. Continue reading

Inaccurate and Inept: The ASO’s Mediation Announcement

Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost
my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,
Iago, my reputation!

Othello, Act II, Scene 3, line 24


Those who have been reading my posts here know I have had a fairly low opinion of how the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) management has been “managing” the labor dispute with its musicians. And that several times I’ve considered that management has gone as low as they could go (here and here, for example).

Sadly, management keeps on surprising me. Continue reading

Getting Ready for Mahler

It’s here—opening night of the Minnesota Orchestra’s new season is tomorrow! I’ve already given my thoughts about performing Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, but as a bit of a preview I wanted to share some of the more memorable moments of this week’s rehearsals. Although we in the Minnesota Chorale have been lucky enough to perform several times with the Orchestra since the end of the lockout, this was the first time performing with Osmo Vänskä since he was reinstated as Music Director.

I wouldn’t miss these performances for the world. And trust me, neither should you (you can get your tickets here).

But in the meantime, let me provide some backstage chatter from the last few days. Continue reading

Empty Spin

Those of us who followed the Minnesota Orchestra dispute closely are getting clobbered with a sense of déjà vu. It seems that the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), under the direction of its parent company the Woodruff Arts Center (WAC), is engaged in precisely the same actions that we saw here in Minneapolis.

Case in point, it appears that the ASO has decided to negotiate with its locked out musicians via the press. Or more specifically, via a graphic that has been helpfully posted on social media. Continue reading

The “New Low” Just Got Worse

Wow. Just… wow.

So yesterday, I commented on a troubling email that was sent to the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra (ASYO) mailing list. This email, sent out by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), email announced that the auditions for the 2014-2015 season were being cancelled. Continue reading

A Disgusting New Low

You know, over the course of the Minnesota Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera labor disputes, I’ve seen a lot of ugly things. Managements in both the disputes resorted to hard-ball tactics and inflammatory rhetoric as part of a deliberate ploy to demonize the musicians and other workers. Again and again, these arts “leaders” denigrated the very art forms that their respective organizations were built to celebrate.  Sadly, such things are often par for the course in a labor dispute, especially when the stakes are high.

But nothing could prepare me for the low blow the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra inflicted today.  They went after their youngest supporters. Continue reading

Mismanagement at Atlanta Goes Right to the Top

Well. As I look out at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) lockout, I can only shake my head in wonder at how it has degenerated into a farce in just a few days. If people’s lives weren’t being horribly impacted, you might wonder if the whole thing wasn’t lifted right from Comedy Central. It’s like an episode of The Office, only set within a non-profit. Continue reading

A Masterclass in Bad Optics

Something about the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) labor dispute has struck me… and not in a good way. In the last few days the organization has been at the center of relentlessly bad news. That much is pretty obvious. But what is intriguing to me is how relentlessly bad its handling of the news has been. The ASO management knew what was coming, and presumably had time to prepare for the fallout.  One could assume that it would have assembled a media plan to deal with the obvious negative publicity that would inevitably occur once the labor dispute boiled over.

Instead, the ASO management has given us a masterclass in how to foul your press coverage, and create new bad press to boot. It is a prime example of what we call “bad optics.”

Let me explain. Continue reading