Symphony Orchestras Open Repertoire to Play the Blues

By Horvitz, Leslie Alan | Insight on the News, November 17, 1997 | Go to article overview

Symphony Orchestras Open Repertoire to Play the Blues


Horvitz, Leslie Alan, Insight on the News


Orchestras are having economic difficulties, but money isn't the only problem. Classical musicians worry about their ebbing stature in the recording industry and fear they are losing artistic control.

Last year, five symphony orchestras walked off the job. The strikes in Atlanta; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; Shreveport, La.; and San Francisco prompted some reporters to announce the death of classical music. But not everyone believes orchestras have struck their last chord.

"What happened last year was a rather one-sided and distorted view of reality perpetrated by the media," says Richard Levine, chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, or ICSOM, an advocacy organization for concert musicians.

Five orchestras already have reached agreements this year -- in some cases several months before their existing contracts expired. "If you have a history of open communication, mutual trust and shared objectives, you can reduce the likelihood of labor conflict, though you can't eliminate it entirely," says Bob Jones, president of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

A player with one of the "big five" orchestras -- Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York -- earns $80,000 and up, so salaries aren't necessarily the issue. Rather, musicians have a variety of concerns, from recording rights to performance schedules, according to Jack McAuliffe, vice president of communications for the American Symphony League, a lobbying and promotional organization based in Washington. The league represents 1,800 orchestras ranging in size from the Boston Philharmonic, with a budget of $40 million, to community orchestras with budgets of $25,000.

"Six or seven years ago, when we did a report on the financial status of the orchestras, half of the 110 orchestras surveyed had a surplus and half had a deficit," McAuliffe tells Insight. This year, 63 percent of the members have reported a surplus.

Other indicators suggest the classical-music industry is healthy "Many symphonies are now doing better -- Buffalo was pulled out of a tailspin after experiencing problems for nearly a decade," says Levine. "Dallas has been sold out for subscription series for the last six or seven years. New Jersey's ticket prices are going up because of excitement about the new Newark arts center." The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where Levine holds a position as principal violinist, sold 20 percent more season tickets this year than it did in 1996.

The classical recording business has less rosy prospects. EMI recently severed its two-decade association with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, the first time a major American orchestra has been dropped by an international label since the early 1980s. While sales for the entire recording industry slumped this year, the classical share of the market plunged from 7 percent in 1987 to an all-time low of 2.9 percent in 1997. In the old days, the recording companies picked up the entire cost to make a record. They now ask orchestras to fund part of the process.

"There's no way to get around the fact that recording 90 to 100 artists costs more than recording a small folk or pop group," Jones acknowledges. He points out that many recordings of the "the core repertoire" are made mainly to document an orchestra's work, which accounts for the plethora of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on the market. Popular recordings have been remastered to accommodate a succession of formats -- 78s, LPs, audiocassettes and CDs -- creating "an almost geometric increase in product in spite of only an arithmetic increase in demand." Music stores are left with enormous inventory, much of which sits in record bins.

Orchestras have to be innovative, asserts the American Symphony League's McAuliffe: "The absence of recording contracts has prompted orchestras to look for new solutions," he says. "More attention is being given to recording works unavailable on other labels. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Symphony Orchestras Open Repertoire to Play the Blues
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.