A Texas Brawl Is Brewing

Another day, another orchestra labor dispute.

I have to say, this continues to astonish me. Here we are, yet again, with the classical music ensemble of a major metropolitan area facing yet another labor battle with its management. Once again, the same tired arguments are dragged out, based on the same murky numbers and the same sloppy appeals to conventional wisdom—classical music is dead and there’s no money for the arts.  Once again, we’re told that only by imposing sacrificial cuts on unionized musicians and workers right this very minute can management save the organization from bankruptcy.

It wasn’t enough that we saw this exact same pattern happen with the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera, San Diego Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Binghamton Philharmonic…

…now we’re seeing it happen in Texas, with the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO).

I’m losing patience. And my willingness to be polite.

A news story in the Ft. Worth Weekly has a useful account of what’s happening now. Allow me to share a few thoughts. Continue reading

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150 Sibelius Jubilee: The Six Humoresques

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It’s a jubilee!  2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth.  As part of the festivities, the Minnesota Orchestra is presenting 150 Sibelius, which honors the composer with Sibelius performances throughout the season. Not one to miss a party, I wanted to share some of my thoughts about the masterworks being performed over the course of these concerts.  Enjoy!

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Sibelius’s Six Humoresques for Violin and Orchestra are quite likely the most magical work you’ve never heard.  Nearly everyone who has ever heard them falls completely under their spell; alas, these miniature masterpieces have been unjustly neglected in both the concert hall and the recording studio.

This is unfortunate, as they are not just fantastic in and of themselves, but they reveal an entirely different side of Sibelius’s genius. Continue reading

An Orchestra Marketing Campaign… Without An Orchestra

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That was the sound of me staring at the computer in stunned silence, trying to take in the new marketing campaign of the Binghamton Philharmonic in New York.

It isn’t just that the marketing campaign, in my opinion, is flawed… it is the way that is flawed.

Essentially the Binghamton Philharmonic has created an advertising campaign that scrupulously avoids mentioning the orchestra. Continue reading

A Confounding Development in Philadelphia

I’ve seen a lot in my time as a classical music writer/blogger. I’ve covered a number of labor disputes involving orchestras and opera companies, and have seen a number of bone-headed, tone-deaf actions as a result. As this point, I assume I’ve pretty much seen it all.

And yet, I continue to be surprised.  It seems that there are still plenty of labor disputes plaguing the world of classical music, and they continue to generate breathtakingly bad ideas.

Let me share the most recent—one that unfortunately has transpired in Philadelphia, the home of one of the United States’ most celebrated, venerated orchestras. This one is a whopper. Continue reading