I just read two articles from the New York Times about the apparent appointment of Marin Alsop as the new Music Director for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
In order to head off some of the email I expect to receive regarding whether or not Ms. Alsop should or shouldn’t be the new music director based on artistic reasons, let me reiterate that this examination has nothing to do with those issues. Instead, I’m more concerned about the process behind the search process and how much significance the BSO board places on input from each stakeholder constituency; managers, musicians, volunteers, and patrons.
The first article in the NYT by Jeremy Eichler reports that BSO president and chief executive, James Glicker, claims the organization went to extreme measures to conduct audience polls and allow for community input regarding music director candidates.
Unfortunately, the article doesn’t mention anything from Mr. Glicker regarding how the input from musicians was considered in this process. I considered that the reporter simply failed to ask about the players or it was edited out of the final version but then I ran across another article in the NYT from the Associated Press which is equally devoid of any mention of how the musicians feel.
It does include a comment from BSO VP of Public Relations & Community Affairs, Laura Johnson, who said,
“the majority of the board feels very favorable to Ms. Alsop. This could be an incredible moment.”
Once again, the opinions and comments from musician representatives are conspicuously absent.
Is it a good thing for the BSO to solicit input from the community? Absolutely. Is it a good thing that the majority of the BSO board feels favorable toward a particular music director candidate? Absolutely.
But what about the BSO musicians? In my previous article, I published a comment from the BSO players’ committee chair, Jane Marvine, who confirmed that 100% the musician representatives on the music director search committee voted to extend the search process to the end of the 05-06 season. The only other publication I’ve seen mention what the players think was in Tim Smith’s article from the 7/15/05 edition of the Baltimore Sun.
The NYT article by Jeremy Eichler does contain one fascinating paragraph,
“It would be highly unusual for an orchestra’s board to reject the recommendation of the search committee, which was headed by the board chairman and included six other board members, as well as orchestral staff, musicians and an outside consultant.”
I wonder if the BSO board will be made aware of how the musicians feel and how they voted at the last search committee meeting or if the musician representatives will be allowed to speak during Tuesday’s board meeting.
Even though the musician representatives don’t comprise a majority voting block on the search committee (they only constitute around 35%) wouldn’t it still imply that the search committee recommendation isn’t yet complete if all of the musician representatives cast a dissenting vote?
What do you think (remember, this isn’t a discussion about whether or not Marin is qualified to lead the BSO)? Should an orchestra board decide to approve the appointment of a music director if one of the organization’s stakeholders has overwhelmingly voted to give the process more time?
I’m anxious to hear what the readers out there in Baltimore and across the country think so don’t be shy to add your comments via the link below.