Levine Recordings: Should We, Shouldn’t We?

Over the weekend, a pair of EU based media outlets reported that Sirius XM’s Met Opera Radio channel has removed all recordings conducted by James Levine. While details are slim, assuming the reports are accurate, one key piece of missing information is why they were removed.

Adaptistration People 131Given ongoing litigation, it’s plausible the recordings could have been removed at the insistence of either The Met or Levine. If the latter, we’ll see where that road leads but if the former, it serves as the latest volley in the war that is the we should/shouldn’t broadcast Levine’s recordings.

There are no shortage of reasonable perspectives related to why Levine’s recordings should be put out to pasture, either temporarily or permanently. While I don’t subscribe to this position, I understand it. At the very least, supporting boycotts until all litigation is settled is certainly a reasonable expectation.

Each of these recordings serve as a brick in the memorial reminding everyone just how bad things became when the entire field facilitates predatory behavior.

To that end, there is more long-term value keeping conduct such as this at the forefront and permanently connected to these works. Burying recordings for prolonged periods of time only work against that goal.

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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