Breaking: US musicians call for a boycott of their orchestra
October 31, 2011 by Norman Lebrecht
Players in the Louisville Orchestra, a once-proud organisation that has fallen on hard times, have issued an appeal to fellow-musicians not to accept work from the outfit, which is seeking to reduce its head-count.
The latest deadline from management to musicians expires tonight. The orchestra filed for Chapter 11 protective bankruptcy last December. Its conductors are Bob Bernhardt, Jorge Mester and Jason Weinberger.
Dismayed by the hard-hat tactics, the musicians are now seeking to rally support from the rest of their profession, including soloists.
The following letter has just gone out. You read it here first:
TO: the musicians of ICSOM, ROPA, and OCSM
FROM: Bruce Ridge, ICSOM Chairman
SUBJECT: URGENT- DO NOT ACCEPT WORK FROM THE LOUISVILLE ORCHESTRA, INC.
Dear friends and colleagues,
SPREAD THE WORD:
As we all know, the musicians of the Louisville Orchestra have been engaged in a lengthy negotiation with their management. They have repeatedly been threatened by their board with being replaced by other musicians. And now, after a final ultimatum, the Louisville Orchestra, Inc. has begun recruiting replacement musicians.
DO NOT ACCEPT WORK FROM THE LOUISVILLE ORCHESTRA, INC.
Both the Louisville Orchestra, Inc. and the Kentucky Opera have been placed on the American Federation of Musicians’ (AFM) International Unfair List, and accepting work from these two groups could generate fines and penalties.
But it is not just the Unfair List that should deter anyone from accepting this work–the fact is that it would simply be wrong to do so.
Any musician accepting such work would not be serving the cause of art in America, or serving their career and family. Musicians accepting work as replacements would be taking food out of the mouths of fellow musicians, as well as depriving them and their children of health insurance.
The members of ICSOM, ROPA, and OCSM comprise a great number of orchestral musicians in North America, and we have thousands of students. Please educate your students, and the leaders at your music schools, of the importance of this effort. If the egregious and despicable actions of Louisville Orchestra CEO Rob Birman, and Board Chair Chuck Maisch were to succeed, then no orchestra in North America would be safe from such attacks. Any musician accepting such work would be building a career on quick sand.
Please post this message in your studios, and please send it to your students everywhere, as well as the colleagues in your orchestra who might not be subscribed to the ICSOM, ROPA, or OCSM news lists. Post it backstage at work. Post it on your Facebook pages. Spread the message everywhere that the musicians of ICSOM, ROPA, and OCSM will always stand together
The symphonic musicians of North America perform as a united network of friends. It is crucial that we stand together on this issue, not only for the musicians of Louisville, but for the future of musicians everywhere.
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