Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Who's Winning?

As far as the future of classical music goes, the most popular topic of conversation has been the Minnesota Orchestra.  It is unavoidable.   It is a huge issue that has gained a great deal of media attention.  Almost every musician feels in some way connected to this crisis as it spirals further and further out of control.  I spent a great deal of time sifting through articles and pondering which part of the story to discuss in this post.  While doing this, I came across an interesting blog post titled, “Baseball and Beethoven:  The Minnesota Orchestra, the Marlins and the Perils of Market Correction”, by Tom Peters. 

This blog post went into a discussion about what could happen to the level of playing in the orchestra if the board makes the cuts it is proposing.  Mr. Peters guesses that, based on a model set by a MLB team, a lower budget will attract less experienced players.  These less experienced players will use the Minnesota Orchestra as a stepping-stone before moving on to one of the top orchestras in the country.  This would effectively prevent the orchestra from reaching the level of musicianship and artistry that was demonstrated for over 100 years before the lockout.   I agree that this is a definite possibility, although I sincerely hope that this hypothesis is not proven.  The final point in this blog, though, was what really caught my attention. 

“So long as there is silence at Orchestra Hall, nobody wins.”

This is an important point that I had not seriously considered, and I don’t think I could be the only one.  I know I am on the musician’s side.  We all want the musicians to “win”.   But at this point, what does it mean to win?  Everyone has been losing for almost a year:  the board, the musicians, and the audience.  It’s about to get a whole lot worse too.  They have five days to reach an agreement or the orchestra will not be performing in Carnegie Hall at the beginning of November, and they will lose their beloved music director, Osmo Vänskä.  The board has made it clear that they are willing to let go of both of those things, as well as the opening of Orchestra Hall and it’s million-dollar renovation.  Even if the musicians eventually are able to reach an agreement they are happy with, they will have lost so much that it will be difficult to consider it a victory.   I don’t know what the answer is to this extremely complex problem, but I sure hope someone can figure it out.   After all this time, I just hope there will be a future of classical music in Minnesota.  I hope the music wins. 

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