Louisville Around The Net

Since the Louisville Orchestra (LO) announced it would begin hiring replacement musicians, the response throughout social media and culture blogs has been voluminous, but mild mannered compared to an equally devastating work stoppage like last season at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

To be more precise, social media outlets continue to produce a steady stream of messages and discussions while the culture blogging community has been comparatively calm, save one exception: a blog post from New York Oboist Karen Birch Blundell.

On 4/8/2012, Ms. Blundell posted an entry titled An Open Letter to Young Orchestral Musicians
and from then until the point when this article was written on 4/11/2012, it has generated 160 comments. The actual blog post/letter succinctly encourages musicians to avoid the replacement musician audition. For those who have been following the situation, Ms. Blundell’s points cover much of the same territory you’ve likely heard elsewhere, but it is always useful to see everything together in one place.

Although lengthy, the comment tread contains some intriguing segments between comment authors who agree or disagree with Ms. Blundell. The conversation becomes heated in a number of areas surrounding the topic of whether or not musicians should take the audition, especially surrounding comments from author’s using the moniker “Edward Coast,” “Billy Joel,” and “new model.”

Elsewhere, the Louisville Orchestra Musician Association (LOMA) petition is over 6,000 signatures; up 2,700 since we last checked in on Monday, 4/9/2012.

There isn’t very much going on from the LO; the organization’s Press Release web page hasn’t been updated since 2010 but the homepage recently added a slide that reads “The trials and tribulations of the Louisville Orchestra, sadly, are not new. Those who care about the organization are encouraged to read the historical coverage from The Courier-Journal. Context matters.”

Indeed, context does matter but unfortunately, the slide links to an interior page that only lists selective excerpts from a number of Courier-Journal articles from 1988, 1994-1998, and 2002-2008. There’s no introductory and summary content, just the list of excerpts so value derived vis-a-vis context is perhaps best determined by the reader.

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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