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So where did your summer go?


It’s getting worse, year by year. American orchestras, whose players once went off to shoot bear or pool in the Adirondacks, now oblige staff to report to work ever earlier in August to rehearse the Aix-Proms-Lucerne-Salzburg-Lübeck festival programme. Pallid and jet-lagged, the musicians return to open the home season with as much enthusiasm as an England goalkeeper facing a penalty kick.


Festivals have become an etiolating factor in our lives, stealing our precious summers, weakening marriages, depriving children of parents at leisure, eating away at fantasy and freedom with the scant reward of late-night microwaved meals and far too much to drink. The festival transaction has got out of hand.


– From the Lebrecht Conversation in the September issue of The Strad, out now.

Discuss below. Especially if you are a player, or a festival manager.

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  1. Well, back when American orchestral players went off to shoot bear or pool in the Adirondacks (or do whatever wherever), they didn’t get paid for that late-summer period.
    Now that American orchestras – at least the ones on a high enough level to play the Aix-Proms-Lucerne-Salzburg-Lübeck circuit – are on 52-weeks-per-year contracts (which include paid vacation time), why shouldn’t they spend August doing what they get paid to do?
    And without the Aix-Proms-Lucerne-Salzburg-Lübeck circuit, how would important European audiences and critics such as your good self get to hear our orchestras?

  2. What with major cutbacks in the US orchestra seasons, touring and “residencies” – like the several the Cleveland Orchestra has – have become a necessary part of the budget and not just an effort to expand visibility.

  3. William Lang says:

    So what? How many professions get the summer off? Teachers? Musicians either work during the summer to support themselves and their families, like millions of other people, or they are lucky enough to choose to work during the summer. If children have summer’ off, and parents are traveling (although while working,) what’s the stop the children from coming with them?
    It’s a lovely life, but also a job. Balance is required, as in all things.

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