Chamber orchestra's reputation on line

  • Article by: EVELINA CHAO
  • Updated: October 26, 2012 - 9:00 PM

Musicians at the SPCO have already made sacrifices. Audiences should not be asked to.

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grameebabsOct. 26, 12 9:36 PM

It sounds as though management is operating with a situationally flexible bottom line. Dire straits on the one hand if musicians do not sacrifice and essentially take it in the chops again for the struggling organization. Not such dire straits while presenting best face to investors willing to fund expensive enhancements. People! We have a world-class chamber ensemble! Without world-class musicians, we have nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Tops-down financial management must be benefiting someone, but it certainly isn't the musicians or the audiences. Seriously!

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erikj3Oct. 27, 12 2:17 AM

Management acts the same across all industries. We've seen this in mining, in the NHL, in the NFL, in Wisconsin, and in uncountable situations over the years. And they talk about union "thugs". Who're acting like thugs, really?

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okeedokeeOct. 27, 12 8:48 AM

Fact is, the market does not support the salaries the musicians want. Plain and simple.

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mulberryshtsOct. 27, 12 9:03 AM

Thank you for helping us understand the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra situation: although management has raised $50 million to build a new concert hall, the orchestra that they want to play in it will be: a) smaller; b) paid less; c) subject to dismissal unilaterally; d) subject to other cuts (403b and health benefits) and e) be forced to retire at the age of 55. The current lockout seems like management terrorism intended to threaten musicians with a loss of their professional standing, either now or later. Times are tough for many of us, but this lockout towards musicians of a world-class chamber orchestra is a gratuitous display of raw economic power to coerce people whose value to the community is to create MUSIC. What's wrong with this picture?

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jlestribOct. 27, 12 9:22 AM

As long-time season ticket holders to the SPCO, we fully support the musicians and are appalled by the stance of the board and management. What we have now is a truly world class orchestra - a real treasure to our community. The board and management seem determined to dismantle it by stripping away the senior talent and cheapening down the rest of the (smaller) orchestra. At the same time, they think we need a new, expensive building. (Why do orchestral boards always seem to think that way?) SPCO will never be the same if the board plan happens. The community needs to continue to rally behind the musicians and help protect and preserve this cultural asset of the Twin Cities.

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blogger1947Oct. 27, 12 9:46 AM

The commenter who claims that the market does not support the musicians' salaries must not have read the entire article, or understood the conflict between a board that can find $50MM for a new concert hall, but cannot pay the musicians who would play there. The notion of buying-out players over the age of 55 is absurd. It is the more experienced and mature musician who makes the best performer. The history of permanent music in the USA is full of supporting examples. By comparison, I don't hear anyone demanding pay reductions or retirements for all the has-beens of the rock music world, many of whom are embarrassingly old to be playing the stuff they do.

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eddie55431Oct. 27, 1210:21 AM

There is no solid background to this story. A comparison of infrastructure investment to ongoing labor expense is apples/oranges. The infrastructure is amortized over the life of the building. Since an organization such as this isn't actually a profitable business on it's own merits, but instead exists on the generosity of donors, you must also look at how the funding stream may be encumbered by the wishes of the people and organizations that fund it. Money that is dedicated to a building fund is not available for operations expense and salaries. It's nice to talk about how noble and dedicated the musicians are, but in the end the business model must work to keep a roof over their heads and heat on in the building. Having some experience on a community non-profit board I'm sure the board members are addressing the financial issues with the goal of continuing to provide the best performances possible within the funding available. Commenters comparisons to other for-profit industries and "management terrorism" are just plain foolish. It may be art, but if the business model doesn't work it's just a bunch of out-of-work musicians on a street corner with their "world class" hats out.

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pumiceOct. 27, 1210:35 AM

Re: "Fact is, the market does not support the salaries the musicians want. Plain and simple." So then, okeedokee, what are you doing to educate The Market? Can you deny that its value system is seriously skewed when it "values" the highest-income-earning segment ever-more highly than it values workers who pick up garbage or clean toilets or run a steam press at a laundry or wait tables or sweep streets or teach other folks' kids or milk cows or write a song or put out a fire or drive a big rig or take care of sick people or take care of elderly people or drill for oil or dig for coal or construct buildings and infrastructure or lay brick or wire a house or fix your plumbing or cut your hair or fill potholes or chase down scofflaws or play a cello?

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okeedokeeOct. 27, 1211:47 AM

pumice "Can you deny that its value system is seriously skewed when it "values" the highest-income-earning segment ever-more highly than it values workers who pick up garbage or clean toilets or run..." ------- The market's values are the market's values. If 100k people can scrub a toilet but 1 can run a corporation......who do you think should be compensated more? what skillsets are more rare? which role returns the highest value? It is not a reflection on the value of individual persons as human beings. Rather it reflects the scarcity of the talent.

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epbarnesOct. 27, 12 1:08 PM

Okeedokee, you are totally making the point for the musicians with "which skillsets are more rare? which role returns the highest value?" It is the skillset of the musicians that are far beyond those who pretend to be shepherding this arts organization. What is truly dispiriting (in addition to the fact that the orchestra "management" simply has no idea that they are actually dismantling the product that the purport to be "managing") is the fact that they are choosing to be so totally tone-deaf to any other idea or option than the ones they have already, unilaterally determined. The reality and options that are possible do not begin and end in this one version of reality that they have decided upon.

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