A Much Needed Class Act

The 3/19/2009 edition of the Columbus Dispatch, reports that piano soloist Emmanuel Ax is waiving his fee for this weekend’s performances with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Regular readers (and everyone else in the business not living under a rock for the past season) know all about the CSO’s troubles so Ax’s generosity, which was reportedly his offer, demonstrates the right attitude at the right time. I wish the same were true of all soloists across the board…

Emmanuel Ax, good guy.
Emmanuel Ax, good guy.

I know of a few instances this season where soloists have cancelled scheduled appearances at orchestras that have had trouble making payments to all personnel (perhaps they needed retention bonuses for keeping the date) so Ax’s gesture in support of the ensemble’s artistic accomplishment is a welcome pinpoint of illumination in an otherwise dim heaven of selflessness. As it turns out, Ax recently started a blog and I hope he’ll take some time to post on his time in Columbus.

Postscript: a note to the PR folks working with soloists; please spend a few bucks and buy a domain name and a paid wordpress theme. An artist of Ax’s caliber deserves something better than a free wordpress account. Also, please change the default “Just another WordPress.com weblog” blog description. If it’s his official blog, don’t make him look like an amateur. In fact, in recognition for his generosity I’ll be happy to set Emmanuel up with a proper blog for no charge. Just send me a note and we’ll make it happen.

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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2 thoughts on “A Much Needed Class Act”

  1. I guess I’m a bit baffled as well. Especially since someone owns http://www.emanuelax.com (his recording company?) and is using it to promote him. It even has a blog link that goes to his wordpress.com blog.

    The majority of hosting sites are setup for quick-installs of the wordpress software (free and open source). You would think that the blog could be internally hosted at his domain very easily.

    I find his posts to be interesting… I would bet he’s got a pretty good following of readers already.

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