A War Of Words Indeed

Hats off to NPR’s Tom Huizenga for writing such a terrific article for the 9/6/2012 deceptive cadence blog. In particular, Huizenga examines the recently inaugurated hot war between the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and its musicians and the post does one of the best jobs I’ve ever encountered at putting things into perspective.

The passage which leaps off the page sums up the why it is so easy to get sucked into the ugliness that is the emotionally charge rhetoric of PR campaigns (especially the opening salvos).

Let’s forego details on what is, for the moment, essentially a war of words and budget numbers. Instead, let’s focus on what makes the ASO one of this country’s important orchestras, hoping that the dispute will resolve quickly (and fairly).

From there, Huizenga continues by refocusing attention toward what he feels are five of the orchestra’s terrific recordings. It’s a terrific, and subtle, device that reminds those on the outside looking in about one of the primary reasons orchestras exist in the first place.

And if nothing else, the hyperbolic rhetoric from stakeholders currently defining the ASO work stoppage demonstrates that no matter how much folks talk about new models in this business, you can always count on embracing nasty, old school, counterproductive attitudes to prevail when groups are at their worst (such as labor disputes).

In the meantime, I do hope everyone takes the time to enjoy the recordings on Huizenga’s list.

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.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment