A few days ago I published a piece about the importance of letting newspaper editors know you support and appreciate their decision to run classical music articles beyond mundane concert reviews. Recently, the Baltimore Sun published a piece by Tim Smith about the recent departure of James Glicker, the freshly resigned president & CEO of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which is an ideal representation of the type of article I was referring to…
The article reviews some of the heavy spin coming from Mr. Glicker himself over his personal summary of accomplishments during his 18 month tenure as president & CEO. Mr. Glicker is quoted in the article as saying,
“I turned [the BSO] around, and now it’s time to move on. I’m kind of a turnaround guy. When I finish something I get kind of restless.”
>From that statement, it sounds like things at the BSO are fine and dandy; however, Tim Smith does an excellent job at comparing that statement to some of the undisputed facts surrounding some of Mr. Glicker’s decisions and the organization’s current position (does the phrase “Mission Accomplished” ring a bell?).
For example, the article points out that the BSO is still saddled by some heavy annual and accumulated debt, the executive leaders originally proposed a dubious plan (later scrutinized by the IRS) to sell their hall in order to retire that debt, their average attendance figures are still below a reasonable comfort level, and what should have been nothing but the win-win PR scenario of appointing a new music director was marred by a subjective search process.
The article concludes with the following position,
Appearances mean as much in the orchestral world as they do everywhere else. When it comes to its offstage business, the BSO could use an extreme makeover.
This was, in my opinion, one of the best paragraphs I’ve read about classical music in 2006. Tim Smith comments on the albatross-like PR problems which have plagued the BSO over the past decade. The real irony here is that the BSO originally hired Mr. Glicker as their chief marketing offer and later promoted him to president & CEO based in large part to his experience as a marketing professional. If all of that leaves you wondering why the emperor has no clothes then that’s a good sign; you’re learning to tell spin from reality.
>From some viewpoints, the Baltimore Sun article may not be a flattering piece. However, in the end it’s nothing but good press because it motivates the people of Baltimore to think about their orchestra and provides them with the material they need to better understand why they should care about what goes on behind the doors of their fantastic, hometown institution.