One of the most common email topics I receive regarding the Columbus affair is from readers wondering what the orchestra musicians in nearby Cleveland and Cincinnati think about what is transpiring. Unfortunately, I could only respond by saying that beyond personal (and private) communications I’ve had with some of those musicians there has been no official communication. That is, until earlier this week when nearly all of the players from both orchestras signed the following letter…
A Joint Letter from the Musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra
May 20, 2008
The musicians of the
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra are writing
to express our dismay at the decision of the Columbus Symphony
Orchestra management and board of trustees to cease operations on June
1, 2008. This decision can only be attributed to short-sighted
leadership. Thriving orchestras in smaller cities such as Nashville,
Kansas City, Fort Worth and Raleigh/Durham demonstrate the
possibilities for success in stark contrast to the Columbus Symphony
leadership’s lack of vision.
We urge the Columbus community to find the dedication and the
continuing financial support necessary to sustain a vital major
symphony orchestra for the following reasons:
- Columbus is Ohio’s largest city and the capital of Ohio.
The lack of a prominent orchestra there would reflect poorly on the
cultural level of the entire state.
- The highly-educated, creative knowledge worker is the future
of business development in all cities. A symphony orchestra is as much
a part of attracting and retaining these workers as universities,
libraries, museums and other parts of the cultural infrastructure.
- One of the great American cultural accomplishments of the 20th
century was to bring access to top-quality performing arts to cities
across the country. The loss of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra would
represent a setback for the 21st century.
- The Columbus Symphony is the backbone of the Columbus arts
community. Any child who studies music lessons or plays in a youth
orchestra, or anyone who attends opera, ballet or chamber music
performances, has likely encountered Columbus Symphony musicians. These
musicians have dedicated both their professional careers and their
lives to the enrichment of the entire metropolitan area.
- Music is a vital part of our heritage. Whether people know
it from Bugs Bunny cartoons or a symphony subscription, it speaks to
something universal in the human soul.
We call upon the Columbus community to find symphony
leadership that will broaden the orchestra’s ties to the community and
champion its music, rather than use a few other struggling orchestras
as an excuse for under-performing. Ohio’s capital city should set its
goals high and accept nothing less than success.
The Musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra
There has been no official response from the Columbus
Symphony Orchestra’s executive board or management to the joint letter
and with less than 96 hours before reaching the executive board’s self
imposed deadline to cease operations, events may unfold fast and
furious or whimper into oblivion. Stay tuned…
For more coverage on how Columbus’ sister cities are following events, stop by Janelle Gelfand’s Cincinnati Enquirer blog, Classical Music and More.