Breaking News: Blagojevich Founds New Orchestra

According to the federal criminal complaint against ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, he was “intercepted conspiring to sell [President Obama’s] Senate seat in exchange for millions of dollars in funding for a non-profit organization that he would start and that would employ him at a substantial salary after he left the governorship” (page 57). Notwithstanding, the federal case, evidence delivered exclusively to this new media outlet indicates that Blagojevich was able to successfully implement a portion of that plan…

According to information sent via email from an anonymous source inside the former Governor’s office, the following press release was scheduled to be released the week before Blagojevich was removed from office but it went missing. However, Blagojevich’s former employee confirmed finding the press release Monday morning.

“It looked like someone jammed the fax machine with it,” wrote the anonymous source. “It was covered in what investigators determined to be a low grade hair gel and that apparently gummed up the machine’s feeding mechanism. I have no idea if [Blagojevich] still wants us to send it out but here it is anyway.”

In addition to the press release published below (download a pdf copy here), sources attached an accompanying promotional photograph of the ex-Governor engaged in his new position.




Exciting new ensemble pouring the foundation for an inaugural 2009/10 season

Chicago, IL (January 23, 2009): A new era in classical music is only months away with the introduction of Illinois’ newest professional symphony orchestra. The organization’s board of directors announced that beloved former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, will serve as the orchestra’s Chief Executive Officer and Music Director.

“It only makes sense to have Rod fill both roles,” said the organization’s board chair. “Rod and I have been examining options for a music director and finally determined that it was best for him to assume the position. Afterward, the board expressed great confidence that Rod’s management experience was everything this field is used to seeing and more and we’re enormously proud to call him Maestro.”

Introducing Maestro Rod Blagojevich
Introducing Maestro Rod Blagojevich*

When asked about the music director search process, Blagojevich said “Unless I get something real good for this music director appointment, sh*t, I’ll just pick myself, you know what I’m saying.”

As an institution that is passionately committed to making great music available to as many people as possible and who plans on creating defining moments from so many of the world’s most admired and beloved artists, the creation of this new symphony orchestra promises to be a one-of-a-kind moment in classical music, bringing musicians together in a totally new, modern, and compelling way.

To this end, the organization promises to capitalize on the imbalance in the musician supply and demand chain as a revolutionary and renewable revenue stream. Maestro Blagojevich intends to maximize the audition process like never before. “These seats are a fu*king valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing,” says Blagojevich. “I could have made a larger announcement but wanted to see how the players we get perform by the end of the year. If they don’t perform, fu*k ’em. And the best part is we can fire the sh*t heads whenever we want and all the other players out there are so desperate, they’ll suck it up and do whatever we tell ’em.”

The organization’s board is excited to point out that the ensemble is entirely the brainchild of Maestro Blagojevich, who summed up his inspiration by saying “The immediate challenge was how do I take some of the financial pressure off of my family. I already had the idea of finding contributors to start a not for profit and then one of my political advisors told me about how much money orchestra executives and conductors earn. My response was like ‘Holy fu*k, that would do the job!’ so one thing led to another and here we are.”

Capitalizing on the Blagojevich family experience, the board approved Maestro Blagojevich’s proposal to have his wife serve as their Vice President Development. When asked about working alongside his wife, Blagojevich said “So long as she picks up another 150 grand a year or whatever, I don’t care.”

With a gala concert planned for September, 2009 Maestro Blagojevich promises to provide ticket buyers with what they want. “New music sucks so if they want Beethoven, I’ll give ’em Beethoven,” said Blagojevich. “Even if the mother fu*kers want mashed potatoes, Maestro Rod will serve ’em up a hot, steamy pile.”

In addition to auditions and artistic planning, the organization is developing a business plan capable of providing the sort of flexibility needed to remain competitive during the current economic climate. One notable component the board recently finalized is the working status of the orchestra’s musicians. “We had some union musicians audition but my recommendation to the board was to fire all those fu*king people,” said Blagojevich. “I told the board chair ‘Get ’em the fu*k out of there and get me some artistic support’ and that’s exactly what he and the other board members did.”

Although the orchestra’s initial activity and executive salaries are made possible through the generosity of what Maestro Blagojevich defined as “Warren Buffet types,” public donations will play an ongoing role in helping the organization meet its financial needs. Therefore, online donations will be accepted once the organization launches its website this spring.


* Special thanks to Bruce Hembd, member of the Arizona Opera Orchestra horn section and author of the Horndog Blog, for coming up with the Blago graphic which, in turn, inspired the PR.

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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