A Bombshell In New Jersey

In yesterday’s edition of the New Jersey Star-Ledger they broke a story that asserts some of the violins Herbert Axelrod sold to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra may be fakes.  That’s big news.

The Star-Ledger article also goes on to claim that the then NJSO executive director, Lawrence Tamburri, exaggerated claims made by one violin appraisal expert to help validate the deal to purchased the instruments. The article continues by pointing out that Tamburri was able to secure the top executive post at the much larger Pittsburgh Symphony based on his being one of the architects of the Axelrod violin deal.

Last May 3rd, nearly three months ago to the day before the recent Star-Ledger article was published, I posted a piece here at Adaptistration entitled Why the NSJO Strad Fiasco is Bad For Pittsburgh that claimed Tamburri’s reputation had been artificially enhanced by this scam and the entire debacle would have a detrimental effect on the orchestra management industry.

I even wrote another article at my column over at The Partial Observer on May 10th entitled Playing The New Jersey Symphony Like a Fiddle that detailed how the Axelrod scam will have several long range negative effects on the orchestra industry.

But here what’s really important

I think we should all take the time to realize that what’s most important is not that these issues were written about here three months before appearing in the Star-Ledger, but that a “here” even exists.

Before the emergence of culture blogs, you would have had to wait until a major print outlet like the Star-Ledger decided to put tens of thousands of dollars into a story like the one they published yesterday.

Not only were many of the same issues discussed here at Adaptistration earlier, but you the reader have always had the opportunity to write in with your opinions and continue the discussions as well as move it in new directions.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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