It was simply too good to last. Although several orchestras which teetered on the brink of work stoppages this season managed to pull back in the 11th hour, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra found itself toppling over the edge this week when the organization’s management canceled an upcoming concert and all related rehearsals…
According to an article in the 11/141/2007 edition of the Jacksonville Daily Record by Caroline Gabsewics, symphony Executive Director Alan Hopper was reported as saying “We are not locking the doors. We have suspended operations and pay.” In contrast, official statements from the musicians’ spokesperson and symphony bassist, Kevin Casseday, said that the musicians were willing to continue to play and talk but the management locked them out.
According to the 11/14/2007 edition of the Florida Times-Union in an article by Roger Bull, Casseday was quoted as saying "It was management that locked us out, we’re ready to negotiate, we’re ready to rehearse. But we don’t want to contribute to an orchestra that’s shrinking."
Even though most of this sort of rhetoric wouldn’t be cause for too much concern, there is one element that, if left unchecked, threatens to push the situation into a destructive pattern not unlike what was experienced in Louisville last season. In particular, symphony Board chair, Jim Van Vleck, was quoted in the above Times-Union article as saying "I really do respect our musicians, but there’s something about a 37-week year and 20 hours a week that doesn’t seem too onerous."
Historically, that sort of public statement from a symphony board officer or executive administrator doesn’t go very far toward fostering an amicable resolution. Nevertheless, the lockout is only in its earliest stages and having the light of public scrutiny cast on events can change positions once thought inflexible.