All the orchestras that have filed bankruptcy or closed their doors in the past 10 years or so have blamed management.

Am I missing something? Is the same administrative staff that bankrupted the first orchestra just floating from one organization to another causing fiscal chaos? Are they hell-bent on destroying the future of the orchestra and have secretly come up with a plan to infiltrate one orchestra after the next?

Uhm – I seriously doubt it. Everyone is SO quick to point fingers – musicians blame the administration, administration blame the musicians. Funny, when you talk to someone who has no connection to the classical world, they laugh and say, “Who goes to orchestra concerts anymore? That’s rich people music.” What is it, less than 6 percent of the US population listen to classical music…isn’t it lower?

I’ve been following these situations VERY closely, reading comments people make, hunting down tax documents for orchestras, looking at endowment and fundraising initiatives…etc. etc. I’ve been trained and educated to know what I’m looking at – it’s not just a bunch of numbers to me – I’m not some dumb musician – I have a BUSINESS background. Yet so many musicians point to issues regarding budgets, fundraising, marketing and development and have NO clue what they’re talking about. I’ve been hearing a lot about being paid market value…do you know what market value is right now?

I read a comment where someone was complaining and could not understand why a band director that graduate from some University or College in bump-kiss Ohio got paid 40k a year while a musician who graduated from Julliard barely gets 30k playing in an orchestra.

Uhm…I’m going to try to control my rage and keep my rampage to a minimum…especially since I’m an enormous advocate for music education. I will point out that it was probably that band director that graduated from University X that inspired Julliard graduate to pursue music in the first place. That band director probably inspired a lot of kids – giving them opportunities they normally would not have had, not to mention giving them the necessary skills to become successful individuals in today’s society.

And watch, I know someone will respond to this with “well, it’s about the musicians and making music and management should understand that and concede to that mission.” I’m sorry but it’s a business when you start complaining about not getting paid what your worth. That being the case…it needs to be treated as a business…If you don’t like something fix it – if you don’t like playing in an orchestra that pays you poor wages then audition for another orchestra that pays more – teach, start your own nonprofit, do something.

Basic business practice – don’t spend more than what you make. Some orchestras are lucky enough to receive a large endowment securing their future – while others struggle to raise enough money from donors (in a period of economic struggle) to cover their operations.

And no, it’s not that easy finding a donor willing to shell out a few million. That kind of donation usually comes as a bestowment – meaning the orchestra has built a relationship with that individual donor over the course of their life.

That being said – something must be done about this – it pains me to hear about all these orchestra filling bankruptcy.  Frankly, it’s time to stop pointing fingers and start working together. It’s the 21st century – why are we still ruining performing arts organizations like they were in the 18th century?

Any time this stuff seems to be brought up…the first thing I hear is…”Well, you’re just bitter because you’re not good enough to play in an orchestra.” Uhm…no…actually, I’m a damn fine musician and a damn fine clarinetist. I have no intention of playing in an orchestra, it’s simply not my dream – I have other dreams as a musician…that don’t involve a full-time orchestra gig. Since when did being a successful musician equate to playing in an orchestra? Who is teaching their students that the only respectable job for a musician is playing in an orchestra? And who is teaching their students that playing in an orchestra gives you a license to be an arrogant prick?

I know many amazing orchestral musicians…bust it stops there because there solo and chamber playing is often times poor. There have only been and handful of orchestral musicians I have respected as a soloists, orchestral musician, and artist…one of them being my current teacher – he is my mentor and am continually inspired by his artistry.

Okay…I’m done and need to practice and prep for teaching tomorrow.

End rant.


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