Just In Case You Forgot How Deep Of A Public Perception Hole We’re In

If anyone ever wondered whether or not the orchestra field has a history of projecting an elitist image where the self-ordained curators of “greatest art” are comprised of a bunch of pompous asses, might I direct your attention to an article by Mariella Moon in the 9/17/2014 edition of endgadget.com that examines a brand new social network called Netropolitan that is designed expressly for the one percent crowd. What makes this a genuine embarrassment for the entire field is the site was conceived and spearheaded by a conductor who wears his Maestro Mystique like a badge of honor.

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-066The Mr. Maestro in question is one James Touchi-Peters, a former conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra, a nonprofit ensemble that somehow fails to appear in either the GuideStar.org or CharityNavigator.org databases.

If your stomach isn’t turning yet, listen to how Touchi-Peters shills his restricted online community via an article in the 9/16/14 edition of CNN.com by Doug Gross.

Launched Tuesday, Netropolitan bills itself as “the online country club for people with more money than time.”



“This is 100% real, and I believe there is a need and an audience for this service,” said James Touchi-Peters, Netropolitan’s founder.

Touchi-Peters, 48, a composer and former conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra, said he had trouble finding people to whom he could relate on other social sites.

“I saw a need for an environment where you could talk about the finer things in life without backlash — an environment where people could share similar likes and experiences,” he said.

The author is clearly giving Touchi-Peters rope to hang himself (along with the rest of us) and can you blame him (I certainly can’t)?

Consequently, it is easy to see why the public at large sees orchestras as a caricature of navel-gazing, self-entitled elitists. In the meantime, I would pay real money to watch a genuine conductor from Minneapolis figuratively break his foot off in Touchi-Peters’ ass by weighing in on this topic.

Paging Bill Eddins; Mr. Bill Eddins, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

In the meantime, I urge you to not think this is just some meaningless effort launched by an elitist snob and instead note the amount of mainstream press Touchi-Peters is gathering, especially within the tech networks. It isn’t like that industry has a great deal of love for the nonprofit performing arts in general and now they have something to laugh at and justify unwarranted low levels of involvement and philanthropic concern. Frankly, the more people outside the field see those inside the field making fun of something like this and dismissing it as the efforts of an individual apparently infatuated with living the life of the Maestro Mystique, the better.

To that end, kudos to Norman Lebrecht for getting the ball rolling via one of his posts from 9/18/14.

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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10 thoughts on “Just In Case You Forgot How Deep Of A Public Perception Hole We’re In”

  1. As the wealth disparity continues to grow, and as corporate global power continues to erode national and local power, this kind of segregation of society seems to be inevitable. Everyone retreats into their individual enclave and a sense of community and the common good disappear as the wealth of the country is hollowed out.

    Orchestras have been inherently community assets, built by past community leaders like George Eastman, founder of Kodak. What happens when orchestras stop belonging to the community and become the plaything of the wealthy? It seems like under those circumstances situations like the one in Atlanta become increasingly challenging for musicians. Its time for average people to remind these boards that they are really stewards of something which belongs to the community. Touchi-Peters is without a doubt the “anti-Leonard Bernstein”, who used the power of TV to spread the message that classical music is for everyone.

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