In the past week, two conductors were escorted off the premises at major institutions after arriving for rehearsal in no fit state to work.
One was a guest at a major orchestra, the other a staff member of an opera company. I am not going to mention names or identify the ensembles. If you wish to comment on this post, please exercise the same discretion. There is already much gossip about; let’s not destroy two careers.
The reason I am bringing the two incidents to attention is that both men were removed with the usual excuse of ‘health reasons’ and sent on their way. Nothing was done to offer them any kind of backup. No concern was shown for their welfare, so far as our informants are aware.
Until recently, the music world was a more caring community. A senior English conductor, known for his weakness for drink, was nursed by orchestras through many sessions on the basis of past respect and affection. Young batons who showed a propensity for drink would be taken to an austere lunch by a couple of veteran players and advised how to get their act together. Stories of such encounters are too numerous to recite.
In the callous world of 2012, this does not seem to be happening much. Many of us have great sympathy for high-profile professional musicians who succumb to the pressures of hard work and public exposure. Keep an eye out for them. Try to help. Do more than just fire them. Take care.