The Tribune-Review’s Disastrous Op-Ed

Here we go again.  Another great arts group has been hit by another editorial hit piece, by another media company whose ideas of “fact-finding” begin and stop at the management’s press release.

This time, this bit of kabuki theater is playing out in Pittsburgh.  The musicians for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra—one of our nation’s great ensembles—are currently on strike.  The issues involved mirror those of several other orchestra labor disputes;  the management of Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc. (PSI) has demanded steep cuts to the musicians’ pay and benefits, and insisted on reducing the size of the orchestra to a level it feels is “sustainable.”   Continue reading

“You Are Doing it Wrong.” Advice to Orchestra Leaders from Ed Stephan

Earlier today I ran across this Facebook post from Ed Stephan, Principal Timpanist at San Francisco Symphony.  Ed was previously with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO) and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), and has taken a keen interest in both those ensembles’ respective strikes.  Ed does a fantastic job about laying out some real issues involved in these disputes; but beyond that, he provides a powerful testimony about why the arts are important.  With Ed’s permission, I’m reposting his piece here, to give it the audience it deserves.  —Scott Continue reading

A Curious Letter from Fort Worth

Yesterday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published an interesting letter regarding the ongoing Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO) strike.  It came from Mark G. Nurdin, chairman of the executive committee for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Association (FWSOA).  This is, essentially, the voice of management.

And I found it to be, well… problematic.

I have no interest in smearing or attacking Mr. Nurdin… a man I’ve neither met nor corresponded with. But as someone who has worked in nonprofit management—particularly arts nonprofit management—for many years, and as someone who serves as President of the Board of a music group here in Minneapolis, I feel I must respond to his points. Continue reading

Classical Music for Halloween: An Edgar Allan Poe Playlist

October is here!  Halloween fast approaches—it’s a time of harvest moons and leering jack-o’-lanterns, and images of ghosts, goblins, and witches are springing up everywhere.

Around this time of year, lots of folks begin posting Halloween “best of” lists, providing recommendations for scariest movies, best horror novels, and more.  Classical music groups get into the fun too, as orchestras start putting together spooky concerts, and recommending terrifying playlists.  I applaud the notion, but it can get wearying to see the same horrifying pieces recycled again and again… works like Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, Berlioz’s March to the Scaffold and Witches’ Sabbath, Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre, Pachelbel’s Canon in D….

To stay in the spirit of the holiday, but to go in a slightly different direction, let me recommend a different kind of classical playlist—one dedicated to works inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Continue reading