The 2004–05 season marks the Indianapolis Symphony’s 75th anniversary. There have been many activities to celebrate the occasion, including a local half-hour PBS special and a new book about the orchestra’s history entitled Crescendo (advertised in the International Musician).
Indianapolis has just ended a CEO search that included musician involvement. Replacing the retiring CEO, Richard Hoffert, will be Simon Crookall. He’s coming from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Glasgow.
Utah Symphony musicians are currently “playing and talking” while negotiations continue. Musicians and the union strongly advocated that management hire an independent consultant to evaluate all aspects of the organization, including the musicians’ contract. This has been done and the evaluation is ongoing.
Ticket sales are lower than in the past, and fundraising revenues are below expectations; expenses (mostly our salaries) are within the budget. Musicians are expressing great concern over the long-range direction—both artistic and fiscal—of the Utah Symphony since it merged with the Utah Opera.
If negotiations conclude successfully by April 2005, the Utah Symphony will embark on an 18-day European tour to Germany, Austria, and Slovenia. We eagerly await both events.
The Phoenix Symphony has completed a search for a new music director, announcing Michael Christie as its choice to start in 2005–06. The 30-year-old has just ended a three-year term as music director of the Queensland Symphony of Australia, where he will continue to serve as principal guest conductor. He served as an associate conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic for three years and, since 2000, as music director of the Colorado Music Festival.
Greg Falkenstein, co-chair of the musicians’ committee, was a member of the search committee, which unanimously recommended Christie. Orchestra musicians, elected by their colleagues, made up the majority of that committee. Greg noted that there were other strong candidates but that Christie “most closely fit the profile that we had painstakingly developed.” “Not only is he an exciting, talented conductor, but he has demonstrated the vision necessary to take our orchestra to the next level,” Greg said.
Dallas Symphony is currently enjoying the fruits of a new five-year contract. Single-ticket sales are on the rise; the endowment is hovering around $90 million; and the DSO has just released two CDs (Beethoven’s 9th, commemorating the 15th anniversary of the DSO’s home, the Meyerson Symphony Center, and Rachmaninoff piano concertos with Stephen Hough).
ICSOM delegate James Nickel commented on some innovative theme programming and community connections, including a collaboration between the DSO and the Six Floor Museum in a performance of Bernstein’s Mass and a new chamber music series at the Nasher Sculpture Center.
There are also incredible innovations displayed on the symphony’s three websites: www.dallassymphony.com, www.dsodiscover.com, and www.dsokids.com. The DSO Kids site contains resources for both teachers and students, including photos and in-depth bios of musicians, and even a Who Am I? quiz that asks students to identify orchestra musicians.
One final item: Dallas is still searching for a new music director, as Andrew Litton’s tenure ends in 2006.
After eight months of bargaining, Minnesota Orchestra musicians ratified a three-year contract the day after Thanksgiving. The new agreement contains a first-year salary freeze (the second consecutive contract to have such a freeze) and other concessions that will save $1.2 million in musician costs over last year. Improvements were made in areas including touring, paternity leave, scheduling, and seniority pay.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic celebrates its twentieth consecutive season of visits by its current music director, Esa-Pekka Salonen. A special concert in November included a tribute video for the occasion.