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Fighting 67% cuts, musicians set up stall at state fair

The St Paul Chamber Orchestra may not exist in its present form by the end of the year, but the musicians are not going down without a fight. Yesterday, they took their stands to the State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights to show the public what they could be about to lose. Read more here.

photo (c) MPR images/Euan Kerr

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  1. That US orchestras are in trouble is shown by this year’s Proms: we have only 1 visiting US orchestra (the St. Louis SO)- previously we’ve enjoyed the Pittsburgh, the Boston SO, and others. I do hope they continue to keep making music somehow..

  2. Musicians don’t really know how to organize to defend their rights. I can’t help but think of the easy penetration by the Mafia of the Musician’s Union, which I became aware of in the 80′s in my brief flirtation with a professional career. The attitude seemed to be “So what? It’s all a big joke!”
    Or with respect to the fact that the Union did just about nothing but collect dues and exclude non-Union musicians from certain jobs. The attitude seemed to be: “Oh- you’re talking about the real world, we don’t deal with that, we have to invest too much time in practicing”.
    I may be exaggerating, but there is this laxness in the political attitudes of musicians which may be related to the fact that in the modern world one must be over-trained to be any good. The same phenomenon may help to explain the “collapse” of the classical music industry: who’s interested in music which is too hard to play, unless you dedicate your whole life from childhood in doing so?

    • bratschegirl says:

      The AFM’s attitude toward its symphonic bargaining units was, indeed, formerly somewhere between benignly neglectful and outright hostile and/or resentful (despite the high percentage of its operating income that derived from the work dues of those same bargaining units). Fortunately for all concerned, this has completely changed in the vast majority of locals since then. Witness the emergence, and respected position in the industry, of the Symphonic Services Division. One of the primary messages they communicate to members is that “just wanting to play one’s instrument” doesn’t work in the real world.

      As for your final comment, what collapse? Some orchestras are facing highly publicized hard times. Many more are thriving, even in the current challenging economic climate. Audiences still want the music we provide, and conservatories continue to graduate ever-increasing numbers of young artists who hope to enter the profession and who have fascinating and energizing ideas about how to reach broader audiences. Cassandras the world over have been sounding death knells for “the orchestra as we know it” for decades; there is no reason to presume that they will be any more right this time.

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