Newslets are compiled with the help of ICSOM delegates and ICSOM Members at Large from sources that include direct submissions, member orchestra websites, and topical news items. The editor encourages input and submissions.
Oregon Symphony delegate Dolores Daigle reports that Elaine Calder has been appointed President of the Oregon Symphony Association. Calder actually arrived last season from Canada, where she was managing director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. At that time, however, she was only able to work as a consultant because of immigration issues. OSO musicians are generally pleased with Calder’s dynamic leadership and the changes she has made, and audiences already seem to be returning.
The North Carolina Symphony was presented the City of Raleigh Medal of Arts, the city’s highest arts award, in a ceremony on November 14 held at Fletcher Opera Theater. North Carolina Symphony harpist and past Medal winner Anita Burroughs-Price performed at the ceremony. The Medal of Arts program was established by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission in 1984 to honor extraordinary achievement of both individual artists and arts organizations.
The Florida Orchestra recently faced an extended period of play and talk negotiations while they operated under the terms of an agreement that expired on August 31. Before the season opened, there were very contentious negotiations in which the board proposed severe cuts in weeks, wages, and orchestra size.
Orchestra committee chair Harold Van Schaik relates that, as the deadline loomed, TFO was visited by ICSOM’s Dynamic Duo, Bruce Ridge and Brian Rood. Bruce and Brian met with TFO orchestra, board, and management leadership, were keynote speakers at a crucial orchestra meeting where the musicians of TFO unanimously passed a strike authorization motion, and later visited with musician leadership of the newly organized Orlando Philharmonic. Their visit to TFO was instrumental in solidifying committee resolve, raising orchestra awareness, and serving notice to the board that others outside west central Florida were aware of events.
A few weeks after the visit, TFO musicians were given a highly objectionable “last, best, and final” offer which, when presented to the orchestra, received a nearly unanimous rejection. When the results of the vote were conveyed to board leadership, the result was an offer to play and talk—an offer they had rejected the prior week. After the musicians’ rejection of the board’s final offer, there was a notable change in the tenor of the dialog.
After continuing to play and talk while new (as of October 1) CEO Michael Pastreich settled in and began to acquaint himself with Tampa’s resources and the orchestra’s finances, both sides reached agreement on a three-year contract that is retroactive to September 1, 2007. TFO musicians ratified the contract on December 9.
While widespread wild fires devastated much of San Diego County in late October, San Diego Symphony musicians were called together to rehearse for a scheduled Halloween-themed subscription series that included Night on Bald Mountain and Symphonie Fantastique. No one knew how many or which musicians would be able to perform when the decision to try to proceed with the concerts as scheduled and as programmed was made. The skies, dark from soot, were colored by an eerie, orange sun, and it was difficult if not dangerous to breathe the outside air. Mandatory evacuations were being announced constantly, many roads were closed, and countless homes, including those of musicians, were threatened.
A phone tree message asking musicians to come to the rehearsal if they were able also let them know that management had made the hall available to musicians and their families who were displaced. It was heartwarming when, at the first rehearsal, nearly everyone somehow appeared, including some who had already been evacuated from their homes. Television and radio news announced that all schools would remain closed, but that the symphony concerts would go on as scheduled. Although San Diego remained in a state of emergency, the orchestra performed the series of concerts without incident to large and appreciative audiences—a reminder to those in attendance and to musicians alike just how important an orchestra is to a community in times of crisis.
In the end, San Diego Symphony musicians and staff were all lucky to have escaped losing any of their own homes, though family and friends were not so fortunate. A few weeks later, the San Diego Symphony, joined by many community groups and civic leaders, presented a free concert event for the residents of Rancho Bernardo, one of the communities hardest hit by the firestorm. The concert, conducted by Music Director Jahja Ling, along with speeches and a tribute video accompanied by the orchestra, honored the many fire fighters, police officers, utility workers, and other neighbors and volunteers who helped in the time of need. The event was broadcast locally on television and radio.