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Tags: Orchestra life

Us as a sitcom

0 Robert Levine

Most readers of this blog will remember the furor over Mozart in the Jungle, oboist and journalist Blair Tindall’s memoir of her days as a New York freelancer. I quite enjoyed it, but some didn’t (especially those who believed that they were featured in the story in an uncomplimentary way) I went onto the Amazon

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11/22/63

0 Robert Levine

Some historical events are burned into the memories of everyone who lived through them. For my generation, the first such event – and, for me, still the most shocking – was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago today. I was in 8th grade, about six weeks short of my 12th birthday,

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If I were a musician, what would I want to know about management?

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Peter Pastreich held the position of Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony for 21 years, retiring in 1999. By all accounts that I’ve seen or heard, he is one of the most respected orchestra managers—maybe it’s because he’s retired now. Anyway–the article that follows is an account of his 2009 presentation at the League

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Why They’re Not Smiling: Stress and Discontent in the Orchestra Workplace

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If you checked out my previous Editors Choice blog, you will remember that the research of Richard Hackman revealed that orchestral musicians are not so happy in their jobs. Quoting Hackman, It’s a bit ironic. Players in symphony orchestras are near the top of their professions—they are among the handful of talented musicians who actually

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Life and Work in Symphony Orchestras

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In the 1996 Summer issue of The Musical Quarterly [80(2), pp. 194-219], J. Richard Hackman, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, and Jutta Allmendinger, a professor of sociology at the University of Munich published a large-scale study of 78 professional symphony orchestras from four nations. Over the years, within the orchestral world, their study

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Do As I Say: Music Conservatory Culture and its Contribution to Discontentment Among Professional Orchestral Musicians

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Today we add a new feature to Polyphonic.org–the Editor’s Choice.  Since we launched our site in 2006, we have a accumulated a vast amount of content. In addition, we also have the articles that were published in Harmony, the periodical of the Symphony Orchestra Institute. Much, if not most, of this content is still relevant

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Note to Conductors: Your Hand Motions Make No Sound

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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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Orchestras and the union movement

1 Robert Levine

Milwaukee is not quite equidistant from Madison and Detroit, but it does sit precisely on the line between them that a crow (or a Boeing) would fly. So it’s fitting that events in Detroit and Madison resonate so loudly with this member of the Milwaukee Symphony – an orchestra in the Rust Belt that’s had

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The worst is yet to come

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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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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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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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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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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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Hard duty

0 Robert Levine

This past week has been one meeting after another devoted to various personnel issues (not, thankfully, any terminations, in case you were wondering). The cumulative effect on me has been that I feel as if I’d gone 5 rounds or so with the front line of the Green Bay Packers. Orchestras are villages. We orchestra

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A local view of the NHMFC

1 Robert Levine

In addition to the comments in response to the posts on the New Hamspshire Music Festival cluster***k, I’ve received a number of private emails. I’ve requested, and received, permission to quote extensively from an email sent to me by a local observer with many connections to the Festival. Anyone likely to read this knows that

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What Happens Backstage Stays Backstage

1 Karen Schnackenberg

Well, except for the parts I’m going to tell you!  No names of course.  LOL. Seriously, performers have to be able to trust orchestra librarians to handle backstage situations with professionalism, courtesy, discretion, and, above all else, help when they need something.  It wouldn’t be right to betray that trust, so I won’t — the

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Always the Last One Out

0 Karen Schnackenberg

It’s just the way things are.  The orchestra librarian is the last one out of the building. Although the percussionists and stage hands might try to dispute this claim, they don’t stand a chance.  Oh yes, they obviously have their fair share of packing up after performances (it is how I got to know my

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Concert or Show?

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This past week the Broadway show “Chicago,” was in Rochester. It was the national touring production, and I contracted it and also played it. It’s a great show. Those Bob Fosse choreographed dance segments are spectacular. What a genius that man was. His choreography is unmistakable. Talk about having a style! The music is 1920’s

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The Fall Classic

0 Robert Levine

You thought I was talking about baseball? Tonight is the last concert in our fall tour, one of my favorite annual orchestra events. Every year at about this time we go up north and play a few concerts, mostly in places to which we’ve been going for years.

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