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Category: Professionalism

Friends come and go…

0 Robert Levine

Many years ago I had a colleague who used to say “friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.” It stuck with me, that saying. On the way home from a dinner party at this colleague’s house, my wife Emily remarked “did you notice how often he said ‘they used to be friends of ours’?” I’ve

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What It Means to be an Artist

0 Tony Woodcock

Being an artist in all its multiplicities of characteristics and talents, is among the most demanding of all demands that we can make of ourselves. We have entered a universe of complexity and simplicity, discovery and delusion. It will never finish. It will never be entirely revealed.

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The Third Estate

1 Peter Sachon

If one wishes to contribute to the conversation about how to expand the audience base for American orchestras, then one must talk about what those orchestras are presenting — and right now that’s a taboo subject. The fact is that the discussion about WHAT exactly orchestras are presenting has never taken place. The arbitrary distinction

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Looking for Perfection in an Imperfect Process

0 Kayleigh Miller

We recognize that the use of beta-blockers by musicians is a serious and controversial topic.  Nonetheless, we feel it is better to discuss it than to pretend that it doesn’t exist.  We neither condone or condemn the use of beta-blockers, but wish to have an objective discussion about its use.  Feel free to join the

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It’s A Pitch

0 Michael Drapkin

This post first appeared in Symposium, the journal of the College Music Society.  It is reprinted here with permission. I’ve had two careers in my lifetime: as a symphony orchestra clarinetist and as a technology executive. One of the advantages these dual careers have given me has been the ability to apply my business experiences

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A Disgusting New Low

0

This post originally appeared on the blog Mask of the Flower Prince.  It is reprinted here with permission. You know, over the course of the Minnesota Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera labor disputes, I’ve seen a lot of ugly things. Managements in both the disputes resorted to hard-ball tactics and inflammatory rhetoric as part of a

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Symphonie Addictique?

0 Robert Levine

Normal Lebrecht recently linked to an article about a British documentary on addiction amongst orchestral musicians: Addiction is blighting the lives of many classical musicians as they grapple with performance anxiety and antisocial hours, a cellist has said. Rachael Lander features in a Channel 4 documentary that brings together classical musicians whose careers have been

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Who Won the Met Negotiations?

0 Robert Levine

According to Norman Lebrecht and Terry Teachout, the unions did: (Lebrecht) [Gelb]demanded 16-17% cuts from the orchestra and chorus and settled for 3.5 percent now, 3.5 percent later. No huge pain for the musicians, but huge gain. They have won the right to be party to major spending decisions, limiting Gelb’s powers as manager and

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The NFL jumps the shark

1 Robert Levine

While this story doesn’t have an exact analogy in our business, it’s nonetheless revealing of a phenomenon that has begun to appear in our field: The NFL reportedly asked Katy Perry, Rihanna and Coldplay, their top choices to play the 2015 Super Bowl Halftime Show, if they would be willing to pay the league in

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Newsflash: conductor doesn’t like unions

3 Robert Levine

In this week’s edition of The New Yorker (paywalled, unfortunately) is a fascinating piece by Alex Ross on Iván Fischer, the Hungarian conductor and founder of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. While the piece focuses largely on his unhappiness with the current rightward lurch of Hungarian politics, Ross also reports on Fischer’s views on the orchestra

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The League and Minnesota

1 Robert Levine

Drew McManus created a bit of controversy last week when he wrote: There’s a fascinating article by Lee Rosenbaum in the 3/27/2014 edition of her CultureGrrl column where she discusses the decision by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) to denounce one of their members for selling off key items from their collection in order

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The Northern Front: Stunde Null

1 Robert Levine

In the aftermath of the most devastating conflict in human history, the epicenter of that conflict, Germany, experienced in 1945 what the Germans called “Stunde Null” – zero hour. It was an expression of the fact that communal life as they’d known it had ended but the society that would replace it was not yet

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Armistice Day on the Northern Front

1 Robert Levine

There’s been what intelligence analysts call “chatter” for a few weeks about a settlement in Minnesota being close. I heard some new chatter in the past couple of days, which led me to to set up a Google watch on the news. About twenty minutes ago, the official news came through, after some preliminary reports

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Leadership, solitude and musicians

0 Robert Levine

I’ve been trying to figure out if this article, written as a speech to West Point cadets by William Deresiewicz, a noted American writer and former academic, might have some insights for us. This is a very long quote from the article: What can solitude have to do with leadership? Solitude means being alone, and

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Something you should read

0 Robert Levine

Once a year or so I read something online that stops me in my tracks; not because it tells me something I didn’t know (which happens every 2 minutes or so), but because it forces me to think uncomfortable thoughts. This year’s winner was a post by Emily Hogstad, who has consistently provided, on her

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Another missed opportunity

3 Robert Levine

The great Israeli diplomat Abba Eban famously remarked, after the 1973 Geneva Peace Conference, that “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The same could be said of the Board of the Minnesota Orchestra. At their annual meeting yesterday, the Board passed on the perfect moment to let the current board chair

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Our conspiratorial industry

15 Robert Levine

One of the more intriguing aspects to the psychology of our industry is a general propensity to conspiratorial thinking. It’s not hard to find amongst musicians; the widespread belief that the League of American Orchestras A National Service Organization is behind all our woes is the best-known example, but conspiracy theories fester within orchestras as

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Misconduct in and out of the workplace

1 Robert Levine

Many years ago a colleague of mine was pressured by management to retire after allegations of sexual misconduct against him became public. I remember being bothered about that at the time, as the specific allegations were about conduct that had happened in his home and had nothing to do with the workplace. Management’s reasoning was

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Charleston decertifies

0 Robert Levine

I was reminded yesterday of a classic newspaper headline that combined obviousness with a complete lack of useful information: Something went wrong in jet crash, experts say Something similarly went wrong in the Charleston Symphony, according to Norman Lebrecht: In an unusual move that may prove a sign of the times, players in the Charleston

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Bringing Down the Sky: From Great to Good in Minnesota

3 Michael Manley

I. The Tornado and the Plow Horse I recently plugged the words “Salieri” and “Festival” into Google, which limped back with a meager Salieri Opera Festival of 2010, presented by Fondazione Fioroni in Verona, Italy. Curious, I added “2013” to the search, and Google came back with only three results, none of which led to

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No good news from the Northern Front (with update)

0 Robert Levine

Today is what most observers are assuming is the deadline for a settlement in Minnesota that will keep Osmo Vänskä and the November Carnegie concerts in the picture. It doesn’t appear that negotiations are going well, though. One indication of that is the management offer of last week, made with great public fanfare and certainly

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Why not try negotiating? (with update)

1 Robert Levine

It’s clear that crunch time is coming on the Northern Front (aka the Minnesota orchestra labor “negotiations”). The board has said that they’re willing to indefinitely delay the unveiling of their shiny new $50 million toy lobby, to see the prospect of ever going back to Carnegie Hall evaporate, and to watch Vänskä walk. The

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Bought and paid for

4 Robert Levine

The Minnesota Orchestra leadership released a “financial review” yesterday. Most of the coverage, though, focused on remarks made by MO board negotiating chair Richard Davis, who told the Star Tribune editorial board that he was prepared to say bye-bye to music director Osmo Vänskä, the upcoming Carnegie concerts, and the opening of the newly-renovated Orchestra

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It’s getting weird up there…

0 Robert Levine

It is possible to say with assurance that something is happening in the Minnesota Orchestra labor war. Just what that something is, on the other hand… Yesterday there was a flurry of activity. First there was what appeared to be a new proposal by management, with a new deadline. Then there was a statement by

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Red line in Minnesota gets redder

0 Robert Levine

I promise that some day I will post on something other than the Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute. But, at the moment, it’s the most important thing happening in our field. The news yesterday from the Northern Front was not encouraging. The first item was that Minnesota Orchestra management has apparently set a kind of deadline

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The latest bad news from Minnesota

0 Robert Levine

There have been several developments in the trench warfare that goes by the name of “Minnesota Orchestra negotiations” recently. The first, and (to my mind) least consequential, was DomainNameGate. Emily Hogstad, who has done remarkable commentary and reporting throughout this dispute, discovered more or less by chance that the Minnesota Orchestra Association had been buying

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The Role of the Orchestra Committee vs. the Local

0 Ann Drinan

An interesting musician session at the League’s June conference featured a panel discussing “The Role of the Orchestra Committee and the Local Union.” The panelists were Robert Levine, Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony, Senior Editor at Polyphonic and former Chair of ICSOM; Tom  Jöstlein, Associate Principal Horn of the St. Louis Symphony, and Chris

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What we should hope isn’t next for Minnesota

0 Robert Levine

There was a flurry of press reports last week on the state of the Minnesota Orchestra lock-out; most about the apparent involvement of George Mitchell as mediator. Norman Lebrecht also reported on some back-and-forth between musicians and management, although other reports disputed the accuracy, or at least completeness, of what he’d written. Since then, there’s

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What happens in Vegas might matter to you

0 Robert Levine

The first Convention of the American Federation of Musicians since 2010 begins today. As a local officer, I will be attending as one of two delegates from Local 8. I’ll also be continuing a tradition I started in 2007 – live-blogging from the convention floor. If you want to follow along, here’s the link. For

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Mediation in Minnesota

0 Robert Levine

The Minnesota Orchestra lock-out – the longest second-longest formal lock-out in our industry’s history – may have entered a new phase, according to Graydon Royce of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Minnesota Orchestra’s management and musicians — now in the 11th month of a bitter labor lockout — are quietly talking again behind the scenes.

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League Conference: A Conversation with Peter Pastreich

0 Ann Drinan

The final musician session was a conversation with Peter Pastreich, a well-respected manager in the orchestra world, having served as Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony for 21 years. Prior to that he served as Executive Director at the Saint Louis Symphony, the Kansas City Philharmonic and the Nashville Symphony. More recently he came

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When Vampire Squid meets orchestra

2 Robert Levine

One of the best metaphors in recent years was coined by Matt Taibbi, who wrote one of the great articles on the financial crisis of 2008: The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face

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Working Together: Orchestra Musicians, Boards and Management

3 Bill Cahn

The Wall Street Journal for Friday, June 7, 2013 carries an article in the “D” Section, “After Orchestras Strike: A Tale of Two Cities” by Terry Teachout. The article compares the ways in which two orchestras – The Minnesota Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony – are dealing with their financial problems.   In Minnesota there is

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Another take on job satisfaction

0 Robert Levine

The question of job satisfaction in our field has long been an interest of mine, both for obvious personal reasons and because the sources of much dissatisfaction lie in an area of research – stress – I heard lots about over family dinners. So I  found this article in yesterday’s New York Times to be

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Making Room for Leadership

0 Katie Wyatt

I was in Washington DC last week, waiting for the cherry blossoms to bloom. Spring has inspired me to write again, thinking about rebirth and opportunities for change. I recently lost a strong teacher in the el Sistema program in Durham, NC that I run, called KidZNotes. She was from Venezuela, had the authentic experience of growing up

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A normal strike

0 Robert Levine

It’s a measure of just how bizarre is the state of labor relations in the orchestra field that only now, months into the most brutal negotiating season in memory, are we seeing the the first “normal” labor dispute – by which I mean a strike (and not a lock-out), not immediately settled (and thus more

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Fingerings

2 Ann Drinan

Perhaps my most intense pet peeve about playing in an orchestra has to do with fingerings. When one has to share a part with someone else, one expects a bit of respect. But, unfortunately, that often doesn’t happen — I have known stand partners to write fingerings over almost every note in the part. To

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The Riot Stuff

0 Peter Sachon

  Orchestras should raise their voices to be heard amid the din of noisy modern culture and promote themselves as socially conscious public institutions. They need to embrace a more inclusive posture in society, and demonstrate an identity more nuanced than silent anonymous conservative tuxedo-clad white male.  While the price of participating in American culture

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NLRB happens

1 Robert Levine

In a nice example of synchronicity, the Jacksonville Symphony musicians, with the assistance of their counsel, Liza Medina, proved my point about the dangers of an employer declaring impasse within hours of my having written this post last week by winning a ruling from the NLRB on the subject: There is enough evidence of unfair

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Why no impasse in Minnesota?

2 Robert Levine

One of the continuing mysteries of the Minnesota Orchestra dispute (for me, at least) was why the management chose to lock out its musicians rather than declare impasse and impose its proposal. Drew McManus believes he has an explanation: On the surface, the MOA executive committee’s public angst over the lack of a musician offer

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The Empire strikes back

1 Robert Levine

The shockwaves from the Minneapolis Star Tribune article on Monday are still reverberating, judging by today’s response from the Minnesota Orchestra board leadership. It’s quite revealing, both of the board’s real position and of some of the thinking behind it. It’s also full of half-truths and rather creative constructions placed on their actions and those

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Cooking the books

11 Robert Levine

This is a pretty amazing story: For four years, the Minnesota Orchestra board has walked a tightrope between managing public perceptions about its financial health and making its case to cut musicians’ salaries. As early as 2009, board officers were discussing how much money to draw from investments, and the advantage of reporting balanced budgets

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Beyond Prestige

1 Peter Sachon

In the American system, the arts are funded mostly through indirect subsidies.  Our government’s tax policies toward charitable giving elicit billions of dollars in contributions annually.  The beauty of this system is that it not only allows the citizens to determine which not-for-profits benefit a civil society, but also it does not require the government

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Osmo joins the party

0 Robert Levine

It’s been a bad week for the management of the Minnesota Orchestra, and this very public letter from their Music Director was was likely the cherry on the cake: Dear Members of the Minnesota Orchestra Board and the Musicians of the Orchestra: In the last few years, the Minnesota Orchestra has truly established itself as

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An assumption too far

2 Robert Levine

A friend in the Twin Cities suggested to me that my assumption that Pinchas Zukerman and Edo de Waart had somehow requested and/or received clearance from their personal managers before agreeing to participate in the benefit concerts I wrote about here was not only unwarranted but likely offensive to the two gentlemen in question. After

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Is a tree embarrassed if it doesn’t hear itself fall?

4 Robert Levine

This is pretty amazing news: The locked out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra today announced former music director Edo de Waart, and former concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis will join them for two concerts in mid-December. The news comes one day after management cancelled all concerts through December 23rd citing lack of progress in concert talks. Meanwhile

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Managements not part of the reality-based community

4 Robert Levine

The musicians of the locked-out Minnesota Orchestra and the locked-out Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra got some helpful press today from Minnesota Public Radio: Locked-out musicians at the Minnesota and St. Paul Chamber Orchestras have been warning of a dangerous decline in artistic quality if they accept new contracts sought by management. They say the severe

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What the election tells us about the press

0 Robert Levine

William Goldman, a remarkably prolific screen writer who wrote the screenplays for, among other movies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, and The Princess Bride (which was based on a novel he wrote), began his memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade with a three-word opening sentence. He wrote:  “Nobody knows anything”

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Another day, another conspiracy theory

0 Robert Levine

Except that, of course, it’s the same conspiracy theory, only this time in the hallowed web pages of the Huffington Post: It’s the voodoo. That horrible, Kuru-inducing zombie voodoo. These are heady times for the League of American Orchestras (LAO) and their ilk. True, their suits have grown a tad more maggot-ridden since their early

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The curious incident of the Boards in the night-time

1 Robert Levine

These have been dreadful times for the musicians of the orchestras at the epicenter of the current epidemic of radical salary-slashing. Those orchestras’ audiences have been affected too, as have businesses in the areas around the concert halls. For students of labor relations, though, these have been very interesting days. No doubt pathologists during the

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Minnesota nasty

0 Robert Levine

Minnesotans are known for being averse to conflict, generous to arts and educational groups of all kinds, and generally plain-spoken (unless, of course, such speaking would lead to conflict). So, on top of the ongoing Minnesota Orchestra lock-out, this comes as a shock, even if not a surprise: The Twin Cities’ distinctive status in the

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I really should have practiced harder

0 Robert Levine

Although maybe it’s the hair? Keira Knightley is working with violist/conductor Yuri Bashmet as a narrator: Keira Knightley and Yuri Bashmet again on one stage! When, in 2010 at the Winter Arts Festival in Sochi after the second intervention with Maestro Bashmet, Keira Knightley asked – not whether he is now developing the genre and

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The rest of the ugly

0 Robert Levine

Although the guts of the Minnesota proposal (and the damage done by it) lie in the economics, there is plenty of other stuff not to like as well. In particular, there are loads of changes proposed to work rules; far more than one would expect in a normal negotiation, much less one in which the

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The reason why

5 Robert Levine

It seems inherent in human nature to look for someone to blame when bad things happen. Bad things have been happening in our field of late (or at least to a higher-than-usual number of orchestras), so those on the receiving end – who are mostly, although not exclusively, musicians – look for an enemy who

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Didn’t work

0 Robert Levine

The Los Angeles Philharmonic has pulled the plug on its attempt to emulate the Metropolitan Opera’s successful series of live broadcasts to movie theaters: When the Los Angeles Philharmonic launched its series of live broadcasts to cinemas in 2011, the organization touted it as an innovative program intended to broaden the popular reach of the

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One Wow and One Uh-Oh

1 Robert Levine

This letter appeared in Saturday’s Minneapolis StarTribune: As former music directors of the Minnesota Orchestra, we came to the state because we believe that it wants and deserves to have a world-class orchestra. We are proud of the cultural gem we have built, with the musicians, for more than half a century. It required long

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Peter Dobrin says it all

0 Robert Levine

This article by Peter Dobrin of the Philadelphia Inquirer is the best reporting on the current crisis yet to appear. Go read the whole thing: …What someone is willing to pay for orchestral musicians in this country has changed radically in recent weeks. Yes, a brief strike last month by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra resulted

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Ground Zero for the Payless model

2 Robert Levine

Every negotiation cycle seems to have one negotiation that symbolizes the trends underlying what happens in that cycle. I had thought that last season’s epic battle in Detroit would serve that role for this round. But I think I was wrong; it’s looking as if Minnesota will define the era. And the Minnesota negotiation is

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A bad settlement in Atlanta

0 Robert Levine

The musicians of the Atlanta Symphony voted to ratify a tentative settlement that was pretty much what ASO management (or perhaps the Woodruff Center) wanted all along: Symphony Orchestra accepted a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday, barely averting a postponement of the fall season. The deal will cost players $5.2 million in compensation over two

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When’s it OK to ask musicians to work for free?

0 Robert Levine

For sure it’s not when the person asking has raised $1.2 million for her new album but doesn’t want to pay back-up musicians on the road. Fortunately for all concerned, she (very grudgingly) changed her mind after considerable public outcry. Many AFM locals had a prohibition in their bylaws about members working for free, at

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That was quick

0 Robert Levine

Maybe not the shortest orchestral strike on record, but likely close to it: They entered the negotiating room in the Chicago Symphony Association’s lawyer’s office at 2 p.m. Monday, and by about 6:45 p.m. a tentative agreement had been reached in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first musicians strike in 21 years. The orchestra announced shortly

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Invisible Musicians

0

At the end of this blog is a letter to the editor that was published in the December 13 Louisville 
Courier-Journal. In it the writer laments the absence of an orchestra at this year’s Nutcracker performance. The tone of her letter is typical of what I had read in the past when ballets have opted […]

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No Need to be Nervous…

0

The next time you get nervous for a performance–whether soloing in Carnegie Hall or being put on the spot in a class–may be a sign that it’s time to get Fearless. This video, by the world-renowned horn player from Canadian Brass, Ind…

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Classical Music: Too Elitist or Not Enough?

1

I spend a good deal of time dreaming up bold and unconventional success solutions for the arts. While these proposals typically receive serious consideration from some corners, there are others who emotionally shoot them down immediately without any rational thought whatsoever. It seems the closer someone is to a position, the more threatening a fresh

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What Artists Can Learn from Steve Jobs

0

Today, as the world mourns the loss of visionary leader Steve Jobs—responsible for creating Apple, the Macintosh computer, iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Pixar Animation Studios—is an ideal opportunity to reflect and grow as individuals. This article o…

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One – A "Jack of Nothing," How Diversified Should You Be?

0

This is always a difficult question to answer and it varies from person to person.  It stands to reason that if you do one thing and take it to the max, your chances of being superior to the person who does two or more things is enhanced. With a few exceptions most musicians who are at […]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One—Key Measures of Success

0

The ultimate measures of success are trial and repeat, and the buyer is the final judge. If a manufacturer of just about anything, from dishwashing detergent to automobiles, gets you to try their product, and you are satisfied and return to purchase again, that is success.  Using a music example, let’s say you get a […]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One – Brand Image Associations

0

It’s important to understand image.  Your brand exudes a certain image and is made up of the following: Tangibles & Intangibles[i] Tangible—Can you play accurately?  Do you show up on time?  Are you a good sight-reader? Intangible—Do you have a beautiful sound?  Are you musical?  Do you make the notes come alive?  Do you add […]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One – It's All about Connection

0

Here is the third installment in this series of blogs that discuss the musician as a brand.  If you are new you can catch up quickly by reading the two previous posts. You’ve probably heard the cliché, “To get ahead it’s not how you play, but who you know.”  Certainly having connections or a network […]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One – What Is Your Brand?

0

What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One—What Is Your Brand? The last blog gave a few definitions to work with. Now think about your brand. And it isn’t just about your playing, but we can start with that. What do people think of when they think of you? Make a list and […]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One-Some Definitions

0

The next several “lessons” will center around the professional musician as a business—a store—where clients can get musical expertise. If you buy into the idea that musicians are small businesses, you can take it a step further. Companies spend a good deal of time and money thinking about, developing and protecting their brands, and there […]

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Rethinking Music: A Solutions Focused Conference

0

An interesting conference for musicians will take place on April 26-27, 2011.  The presenters call it, “Rethink Music: Creativity, Commerce, and Policy in the 21st Century.” It’s billed as a “solutions-focused conference,” and the presenters are the Berklee College of Music and MIDEM in association with the Harvard Business School.  Get more information here. Allen […]

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Artists are Indispensable! But Are You Truly an Artist?

0

When reading Seth Godin’s latest book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, I was delighted to learn that “Our economy now rewards artists far more than any other economy in history ever has.” 
Wow!!!  As someone who has devoted much life energy to…

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Note to Conductors: Your Hand Motions Make No Sound

0

For the past month or so musicians in the orchestra world have been buzzing about Roberto Minczuk, the Music Director of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).  It seems, at his urging, the orchestra management has decided to re-audition every member of the orchestra. You can imagine the outrage that this decision has

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Dumbing Down or Smartening Up?

0

It’s been an exciting week!  Since my article What Professional Orchestras Should Learn from YouTube was posted, many conversations have erupted, debating the question of whether initiatives embraced by YouTube’s Symphony Orchestra are appropriat…

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Dumbing Down or Smartening Up?

0

It’s been an exciting week!  Since my article What Professional Orchestras Should Learn from YouTube was posted, many conversations have erupted, debating the question of whether initiatives embraced by YouTube’s Symphony Orchestra are appropriat…

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Another deadline in Detroit

0 Robert Levine

DSO management has apparently set yet another deadline: The musicians claimed management set an April 1 deadline for a deal or the summer season would be lost and the fall season would be jeopardized. They also said management was unwilling to meet at the bargaining table before the Friday deadline. The two sides have not

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Bloopers

0 Tony Woodcock

We all know the maxim “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Well I believe this to be inaccurate.  The truism should be: “The road to Hell is paved with good ideas.” Because it is all those brilliant, … Continue reading

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More about community engagement

0 Robert Levine

The most important benefit to our field from the Detroit strike will be the ever-necessary reminder that strikes are a sub-optimal method of resolving labor-management disputes. The next most important benefit will be the jump-starting of the discussion about what’s come to be known as “community engagement.” Whether either of those will be worth the

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Community outreach – ideas for guidelines

0

It appears that a big reason that the Detroit Symphony potential settlement fell apart was a dispute over $2 million for community outreach. I am sure there is more to it than that but if there is still a spark of hope embedded in that concept it is worth taking a closer look. The term

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Make Friends – Your Peers Are Your Best Resource

0

Think about it. It’s only human nature to recommend a friend for a job. Putting aside the fact that if you recommend him or her, he or she may reciprocate one day, it just feels good to help out a friend, provided they are a good fit for the job. Even though music is a […]

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The worst is yet to come

0

If you think that the Detroit Symphony labor dispute has been hard to watch, steel yourselves because the worst is yet to come. If the parties can’t find their way to a settlement in very short order, it will be even harder to watch the orchestra disintegrate. The recent “farewell” posting by the entire DSO

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Don't try this at home

0 Robert Levine

We’re having an interesting couple of weeks here in Wisconsin, as has been reported not only by the usual suspects but by the BBC and Al-Jazeera as well. Here was my favorite sign from my visit to Madison on Saturday: Today appeared a life lesson in the form of some frank talk by our Governor

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WTF was that all about?

2 Robert Levine

That’s also the punch line to a very funny story David Sedaris tells about a slug going door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions, but I digress. Sunday’s story in the Detroit News gave the distinct impression that the DSO management was prepared to: …move forward with a newly assembled group of players that would include only those

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More details on the Detroit negotiations

0 Robert Levine

The AFM put out a press release yesterday (February 20) which contained some interesting details on the most recent negotiations: Although Senator Carl Levin and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert had stepped in last week to help broker an agreement, DSO management did not show up at face-to-face meetings with the arbitrators until the third

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A substitute orchestra in Detroit?

0 Robert Levine

In a front-page article in the Detroit News, Michael H. Hodges is pessimistic about the future of the DSO: …outsiders warn that suspending the season involves a leap into the unknown, one that not only threatens the orchestra’s current hold on audiences and donors, but could put the 2011-2012 season and the orchestra’s entire future

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A suspension bridge to nowhere good

0 Robert Levine

The future of the Detroit Symphony may well ride on the DSO board’s definition of the word “suspend“: The crisis surrounding the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike hit a new peak Saturday, increasing the possibility that the financially crippled orchestra may not play a single note of music this season. The musicians rejected management’s final contract

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No settlement in Detroit

2 Robert Levine

There’s a management offer on the table, and a management-dictated deadline to accept it or the else, but there’s no agreement between the negotiating teams: Detroit Symphony Orchestra management made what it calls a final offer to musicians tonight, requesting an up-or-down vote on the contract proposal by 5 p.m. Thursday. The move — which

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Why conductors should STFU

1 Robert Levine

Because otherwise they’re going to say things as dumb as what Leonard Slatkin said today about the DSO strike: …A settlement now would serve both parties well since the DSO’s popular, high-profile music director is the scheduled conductor for next weekend’s concerts. “What’s really cool is that we would be doing Michel Camilo’s Second Piano

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How not to make audiences feel

2 Robert Levine

I know that audiences can be annoying, and clueless, and distracting, and all the rest – but come on, folks: I just have to write a letter concerning the recent performance of the Abilene Philharmonic. Abilenians are a welcoming group who are quick to applaud, and even provide a standing ovation. Yet a beautiful performance

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Detroit inches closer to edge of cliff

0 Robert Levine

This is not the end, but it doesn’t inspire a lot of hope either: The musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have rejected management’s latest contract offer, setting up a showdown that could lead to the cancellation of the rest of the 2010-11 season by the end of the week. With nearly 50% of the

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American exceptionalism

1 Robert Levine

I’ll admit to finding the Right’s fixation on the concept of American exceptionalism quite disturbing. But there is no other country in the world in which the article below could appear in a union publication. There’s likely no other city in the world in which it could appear either, of course – but, as the

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It's the silly season

0 Robert Levine

It’s nice to know that the management of the Louisville Orchestra think that something about the orchestra is valuable. Too bad it’s the name and not the musicians: In a sign of how far apart the two sides remain, an attorney for Louisville Orchestra Inc. has threatened legal action if its musicians continue to operate

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And they could sell tickets to staff meetings!

0 Robert Levine

Labor law bars managements from implementing the governance solution outlined by Bertold Brecht: After the uprising of the 17th June The Secretary of the Writers Union Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee Stating that the people Had forfeited the confidence of the government And could win it back only By redoubled efforts. Would it not

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Tea leaves in Detroit

0 Robert Levine

Two items in Detroit’s newspapers yesterday make me think that things are not going well there. The first was in the Detroit Free Press: Management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra reiterated today that it would make a new contract offer to its striking musicians this week and would request a response by Feb. 11. Citing

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Detroit Update 1/23/2011

0 Robert Levine

According to the Detroit Free Press, there were negotiations today: The musicians and management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra returned to the bargaining table this afternoon to try to settle the contentious strike that enters its 17th week on Monday. DSO board members received an e-mail from management today saying that talks had resumed, said

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More Detroit

0 Robert Levine

The war of words heated up during the time I was writing the previous post: Musicians’ spokesman Greg Bowens disputed the $40.1 million figure, saying, “That must be another example of the fuzzy math that got the orchestra into the deficits it’s in now.”… Bowens declined to address most other issues in management’s Saturday morning

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A press blackout with a very short lifespan

1 Robert Levine

Detroit Symphony management and musicians met all day Thursday under a press blackout: The status of contract talks between the musicians and management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra remained unclear early this afternoon in the midst of a news blackout by both sides in the dispute. The parties met all day Thursday in an effort

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Unions Are a Musician’s Friend

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This past spring I received an email signed by a dozen or so Eastman students. It was sent to Eastman School jazz students and faculty. This group had met out of frustration. It seems that within the student jazz community at Eastman, there has not been much discussion or communication between them about how to […]

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AFM wins in court; won't matter much

0 Robert Levine

The AFM (or at least its lawyers) had a good win in labor law land the other day: The AFM has won a significant victory affecting orchestra media negotiations. The AFM has consistently taken the position that orchestra managements who are signatory to AFM media agreements (such as the Symphony, Opera or Ballet Audio Visual

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Movement in Detroit: PS

0 Robert Levine

It’s understandable why the musicians might be wary in light of DSO management’s public statements regarding their new “offer”: DSO officials said it would up the orchestra budget to $36 million, $2 million more in player pay and benefits than its late November offer. But the offer is contingent on musicians accepting work rule changes

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Movement in Detroit?

0 Robert Levine

Maybe: The striking musicians and management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra traded barbs and accusations on today while a settlement to the 15-week-old strike remained elusive — even as management appeared to sweeten its offer for the first time since November. The musicians called a news conference to accuse management of threatening to cancel the

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Do Your Own Thing, Then Figure Out How To Get Paid For It

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I once was invited to be part of a panel discussion at the International Trombone Association’s annual convention. The subject was orchestra opportunities for trombonists. When I arrived at the venue, I looked at the sessions and concerts that had gone on in previous days, and I saw that a sackbut quartet had given a […]

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Hello, World

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It’s the first week of 2011 and this is the start of my new blog, Street-Wise Lesson of the Week. Many of the posts that you will read here in the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years, will come from my new book, Lessons From a Street-Wise Professor: What You Won’t Learn at Most Music […]

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The moralistic approach to orchestra scheduling

2 Robert Levine

Interlochen Public Radio did a piece yesterday on the DSO strike; in particular the service conversion proposals that management has put on the table. The whole thing is worth reading. But I was particularly struck by comments made by Joseph Horowitz: …there are those in the industry who argue this discussion is way overdue. Joe

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What a good idea

0 Robert Levine

Tom Service, who blogs for the Guardian (UK), reports on a really good idea from the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Association for British Orchestras: The annual Salomon prize is for orchestral players – or, rather, for a single orchestral player in a UK-based professional ensemble who in the eyes and ears of their fellow

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Ice Bowl

0 Robert Levine

Long orchestra strikes come to resemble a labor relations version of the infamous Ice Bowl; a painful and slow grinding out of points in horrible conditions that caused almost as much pain to the spectators as to the players on the field. Detroit shows some signs of becoming almost as infamous in the history of

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Conductors say the darndest things

0 Robert Levine

There’s been a certain amount of piling-on in response to comments that conductor James Gaffigan made on his blog a few weeks ago (h/t to Adaptistration and oboeinsight). After providing us with some details of his recent guest conducting, and news of his new apartment in Lucerne, he proceeds to some rather unfortunate remarks inspired

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Social media and musician activism

0 Robert Levine

This story didn’t show up on the usual arts blogging sites, but it might well have been the most important news for our field in a while: In what labor officials and lawyers view as a ground-breaking case involving workers and social media, the National Labor Relations Board has accused a company of illegally firing

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Wassup in Detroit?

1 Robert Levine

The Detroit Symphony went on strike a little over four weeks ago, although negotiations broke down several weeks before that. That puts the strike clock at around 11:45PM, by normal standards – negotiations seem to begin to get serious, during an orchestra strike, after about six weeks. Why is that? Why not sooner? I think

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Time to go short?

0 Robert Levine

When I first came into the business, the conventional wisdom (as expressed by Len Leibowitz at many ICSOM conferences) was that it was in musicians’ interests to propose one-year agreements and let management pay for the privilege of several years of labor peace and not having to deal with negotiating committees.

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Bad cases make bad models

1 Robert Levine

The NY Times has a story on what appears to be the inevitable strike in Detroit scheduled to start Monday: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has weathered decades of strikes, deficits, criticism over its racial makeup, mediocre concert homes, cuts in state aid and canceled tours. It has always bounced back, rescuing and restoring its beautiful

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Daddy, what's an 8(d) notice?

1 Robert Levine

The short answer is that it’s something that’s about to bite the Detroit Symphony management very hard. The long answer follows after the jump.

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