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.
I was irritated that the ASO’s management was placing the blame for this turn of events on the Atlanta Federation of Musicians (AFM), saying that the AFM had issued a “mandate” that no musician be involved. The exact wording of this email reads:
“However, the Atlanta Federation of Musicians has issued a mandate to all musicians in the local union, prohibiting them from supporting the upcoming auditions. This is an unexpected and unfortunate turn of events.”
This reference to a “mandate” raised my hackles; it also drew a furious response from the AFM, which said no such mandate had ever been issued.
But then something interesting happened. Arts journalist and composer Mark Gresham pointed out that the language in the email I posted was different from the language in the ASO’s press release. Specifically, he called attention to the fact that there was no reference to a “mandate” at all.
I double checked the emails the ASO sent out, looked at the publicly available press release, and Mark was absolutely correct. There were differences.The parallel sentence in the press release reads:
The Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra (ASYO) auditions, set for September 20 and 21, 2014, will be postponed indefinitely due to communication from the American Federation of Musicians requesting that their members, including Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) musicians, not participate in any ASYO affiliated events.
The full press release is here: 2014 9 11 – ASYO Press Release – FINAL.ashx
Let me emphasize that the press release reads: “…due to communication from the American Federation of Musicians requesting that their members….”
These are small, but striking changes… that completely change the story.
To clarify, in its direct communication with music students and their families, the ASO specifically blames the AFM for axing the auditions, and possibly the season, by forbidding musicians from being involved.
In the press release to the public, however, the ASO mentions that there was some unspecified “communication” that only requested non-participation.
Is it just possible that the ASO was quietly making claims to aggrieved parents that it knew would never stand up to public scrutiny?
And further, the official press release implies that the ASO musicians would not participate because the AFM asked them not to. It doesn’t, however, make any mention of the fact that the ASO management not only locked the musicians out and stopped their pay, but deactivated their security clearance to enter the building. In the ASO’s reckoning, the musicians are not even active employees. And it’s still blaming the AFM for the musicians’ lack of participation in the auditions?
All in all, a very interesting turn of events. Perhaps the ASO management would care to comment?