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Summer of discontent?

Well, not for me. But obviously things have been bumpy at certain orchestras lately, and the press coming from both Minnesota and Atlanta seems to get more and more intriguing. Like today’s piece regarding the Atlanta Symphony.

Earlier this summer there were interesting articles involving both the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestraas well as the Atlanta Symphony. Anyone paying attention will notice many of the same themes and issues facing the orchestra business over the last several years, and some familiar posturing from both the musicians and administration. The situation in St. Paul appears to be a bit more serious, with a particularly draconian approach from the management that seems mostly designed to turn the institution into a part-time regional orchestra. Hopefully that won’t happen.

And hopefully (along with generally lowering the temperature of the rhetoric), each institution will realize that one potentially helpful strategy would be to stop talking to the press. None of these fine orchestras has anything at all to gain by a public back-and-forth. In fact, in this age of anonymous comments, there is a great deal to lose regarding public perceptions, even if a particular article is basically accurate (which is not so common these days). Key facts and perspectives are never clarified by self-serving distortions or slant, and the stakes are high. Maybe it’s time to agree to a formal press blackout from both sides until an agreement is reached? And it’s worth reminding everyone that an agreement will be reached at some point, its just a matter of how long everyone wants to stretch it out, and the potential that has for long term damage (insert Detroit reference here).

Random tangent- special thanks to all of you backers to my Kickstarter project, which is one of their most-funded classical projects ever (thanks to you). We start recording tomorrow, more on that later.

Good luck to my colleagues in MN and Atlanta. I hope not to read anything more about it until you all get a nice new contract.


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3 Responses to Summer of discontent?

  1. Rob Simonds August 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Another reason to avoid the press is all the glaring inaccuracies in many of the orchestra business articles.

    I read two articles this morning that had so many mistakes and distortions (probably more uniformed than intentional) that I drank another cup of coffee before re-reading them to make sure I wasn’t crazy.


    • Frank Almond August 27, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      Hi Rob,
      Sorry for the delay in getting your comment up; I was away and had a few access issues. Thanks for your input; we’ll see where this ends up now that the deadline has passed. But at least both sides seem to be avoiding any public statements one way or another.

  2. Sarah August 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    I am appalled at the SPCO governance strategy. I pay to see a world-class chamber orchestra. I will not pay – or will I donate – if the product is cheapened. All of the marketing and the free tickets and the lowered ticket prices won’t make up for it.

    The lowered ticket prices were supposed to build loyalty. I think that they have only built complacency and a sense of lower value. And I say this as someone who is not wealthy but who is willing to pay for – and support – organizations which provide the superior experience I’m looking for.

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