Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Changing the (Orchestra) Model

It's becoming quite obvious to me that Minnesota Orchestra management does not see individual musicians as having unique value. Instead, it regards musicians as interchangeable parts. Why bother paying Pinchas Zukerman top dollar when any young violinist fresh out of music school can play the same notes?

What the MO management really is trying to do is to change the model for the entire orchestra, from a world-class artistic ensemble to a (perhaps) more profitable pops orchestra. The ultimate goal in these contraction "negotiations" is to force out the higher-paid cogs in the machine and replace them with lower-paid, less experienced musicians. Reduce the payroll, reduce the reliance on well-known, higher-paid individuals, and you make more money -- especially if the new guys spend most of their time playing pop concerts instead of more challenging classical pieces.

This is a drastic re-imagining of one of the world's top orchestras, and it's being done with zero transparency and zero input from the community to which the orchestra serves. If management succeeds, they may end up killing this highly regarded artistic organization and replacing it with a less-regarded, more generic pop ensemble of undistinguished players.

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