Virginia Symphony musicians performed in a benefit concert on April 14th to support relief efforts of the Red Cross in Japan. The chamber music event was titled “Benefit Concert for Tomodachi” (友達, or tomodachi, being Japanese for “friend” or “friends”). The VSO currently employs five natives of Japan: three performing musicians, a librarian, and a conducting associate. This collaboration included 25 musicians, friends from Old Dominion University, the Virginia Arts Festival, the staff and stage technicians of the VSO, and other community volunteers. Admission to the performance was by donation to the Red Cross (represented by their most grateful regional public relations director, Robert Shapiro) at the venue. The event was a moving and rewarding experience for everyone involved. Over $2,100 was raised to help tomodachi in Japan.
The North Carolina Symphony partnered with the American Red Cross to raise funds for victims of the April 16 tornadoes that struck many locations throughout the state. During a statewide tour of free outdoor concerts, donations were accepted at each concert venue. The funds will be used to provide food, shelter, counseling, and other assistance for disaster victims.
The Oregon Symphony recently made its Carnegie Hall debut, participating as the oldest orchestra in the very first Spring for Music festival. The OSO’s challenging program, entitled “Music for a Time of War” and conducted by Music Director Carlos Kalmar, included Ives’ Unanswered Question, Adams’s The Wound-Dresser (with soloist Sanford Sylvan), Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, and Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 4. Delegate Alicia Paulsen says that, after extensive planning and fund raising and with the support of their board, patrons, and staff, the OSO was not only able to make the trip to New York city to perform in Carnegie Hall for the first time but also recorded their live Portland presentations of the same program.
According to the festival’s website, Spring for Music will feature North American symphony and chamber orchestras presented annually at Carnegie Hall at affordable prices. It is designed to allow participating orchestras to showcase their artistic philosophies through distinctive and adventurous programming. The foundation that presents the festival is headed by a board of directors that includes Daniel R. Lewis (the former Florida Philharmonic chair who oversaw its shutdown and founding chairman of the Musical Arts Association of Miami, which was formed to support the Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency), Lowell Noteboom (former chair of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and current chair of the League of American Orchestras), Ara Guzelimian (provost and dean of The Juilliard School and former artistic advisor to Carnegie Hall), Catherine Gevers (formerly with Columbia Arts Management and Carnegie Hall, and currently on the board of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project), and Catherine French (former president and CEO of the American Symphony Orchestra League, which is now known as the League of American Orchestras).
Joining the Oregon Symphony at the first Spring for Music festival were ICSOM orchestras the Dallas Symphony and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Also performing were orchestras of Albany, Montreal, and Toledo, as well as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. ICSOM orchestras scheduled to participate in next year’s Spring for Music festival include the Alabama Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Nashville Symphony, and the New Jersey Symphony. ICSOM orchestras scheduled to participate in the 2013 Spring for Music festival include the Baltimore Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Oregon Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, and the National Symphony.
On the international front, the two orchestras of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Orquesta Estable and the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, have been seeking raises since last year. After a strike ensued, a $13 million lawsuit was filed against eight union representatives (four orchestra musicians, three choir members, and the theater’s photographer) and administrative procedures for their dismissal were initiated. Following large increases in ticket prices at the theater, the strike started last year after a government representative said that there were no plans for a raise in the 2011 budget. The director started the new season without orchestra by staging Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre with two pianos and percussion. When Plácido Domingo visited, the orchestra refused to play at the Teatro Colón but did play in the streets as a good will gesture to Domingo and the community. When Domingo left, 41 musicians on yearly contracts were fired on the pretense that they were not permanent staff, being told that since the permanent staff was on strike, they were not needed. The four key points for negotiation are a 40% raise, the withdrawal of the lawsuit, no layoffs, and no other punishments (some orchestra members’ pay showed deductions for the days on strike).