And You Thought The AFM Was Tough

You’ve probably read about the 2/28/2010 “incident” at Italy’s famed Pantheon where employees stopped a concert before it was over because it was closing time (thus prompting musician and audience ire). The incident embarrassed the Italian government enough that it ultimately prompted Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi to issue an official apology to the Russian musicians. But did you know there was video…

The Pantheon employees move in to shut down the performance at 4:43 and another employee announces that the concert is over at 5:21. The crowd goes nuts with one last burst of applause and cheers insisting that the musicians be allowed to finish and for a moment, it looked like they would continue. But everything gets shut down for good at 7:52 when a very serious looking Pantheon employee storms in and takes control.

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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6 thoughts on “And You Thought The AFM Was Tough”

  1. As someone who once escaped overtime charges at Boston Symphony Hall by 10 seconds (I was told the stage crew had gathered en-mass watching the second hand of the backstage clock), I must admit that this incident has raised just as many questions for me as it has indignant outrage.

    Did the organizer of this concert not know that the Pantheon closed at 6pm? (In my limited experience, this usually means people out and doors locked in Italy.) Perhaps the program should have been adjusted to fit the available time?

    There are also competing claims that there were 4 minutes left in the program vs. 40 minutes left. Of course, for these obviously music-loving attendants, 4 minutes of Vivaldi might just seem like 40 minutes…?

    The only totally blameless people in this instance would appear to be the enthusiastic audience who shlepped in the February cold to this concert. For them: Bravi Tutti!

    • those are all the right questions to ask and it makes me wonder if that sort of due diligence was enacted before the official apology went out (or even influenced that decision).

      Your culture observation is good too. I’m sure anyone who has spent time in other countries has noticed distinct differences in attitudes and how much value is related to punctuality. It looks like a case of inadequate communication and/or differences in culture.

  2. Are those times correct above, Drew? Or is the last one 5:52? I’m confused! If they really let them go on for over an hour more I’d be surprised at the complaints.

    I blogged about this a few days back … I could go check what I have there, but that would take, well, TIME … and I’m too darn lazy! I did check your news link and it’s kind of unclear about the real times.

    We musicians here ARE strict with time … I’ve seen people watching the second hand, cheering at concerts if we go 5 seconds overtime because they want the extra money so badly.

    Time is funny; stores that say they close at 8:00 frequently lock doors at 7:45. Some people think that saying “dinner is at 6:00” means “arrive at 6:00” while others think it means “we will sit down at 6:00 so get here before then.” I’m not sure we’ll ever fully agree on the issue of time! (I know I’m on “oboe time” which means get there early enough to check reeds before too many people arrive while my husband, when performing, was on “trombone time” which means “slide in later than most ever would.” We had many an argument about this!)

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