Author: Henry Peyrebrune, double bassist with the Cleveland Orchestra and faculty member at Baldwin-Wallace University.
During the recent troubles, we’ve seen orchestras struggling with financial issues that have resulted in several lockouts and a great deal of negative publicity for the field. Many musicians attribute conflict to ideas propagated by the League of American Orchestra, others vigorously dispute this theory. In a lengthy article on the ICSOM website, Bruce Ridge makes the case for a crisis in orchestra management. It strikes me that the conflicts in Atlanta, Indianapolis and Minneapolis point to orchestra boards that have given up on the orchestra field, disregarding or even eschewing professional orchestra managers and forcing major cuts to prepare their orchestras to deal with the “new normal.” Let’s step out of the trees and take a look at the forest. Where do orchestras stand in American society?
What/who exactly do orchestras compete with for attention and dollars?
1. Own and celebrate our American orchestral heritage. We were first - even before Berlin Phil!
2. Develop relationships with the audience.
3. Create new culture: perform and commission new works, find ways to connect to niche markets, think small as well as large.
Let’s also remember that we have phenomenal music to offer and a great track record. How many acts can sell the same 2,000 seat venue more than once a year, much less every weekend for 80 years? How many television series have 30 new episodes each year for decade after decade? You wouldn’t know it from our press, but we start near the top of the heap.
"To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney