Why we played without pay in Chicago
June 24, 2014 by norman lebrecht
Our exposure of Chicago’s non-paying Beethoven Festival has drawn all manner of confessions from musicians who took part. It’s not just the injury of being ripped off by the organiser, but the added mistrust of discovering that some of your colleagues were paid while you were not.
Here’s a pungent, highly readable account from Ellen McSweeney, who’s no great fan of Slipped Disc and seems unsure to be glad or sad that we lifted the lid on this scam. Read Ellen here.
Why were the wronged musicians and their friends still so quiet? And, come to think of it, why did we maintain silence for nine months as we awaited sums of money that, to us, make or break our ability to pay the rent?
For me, the story of the Beethoven Festival is a story of vulnerability: my own individual vulnerability, that of my colleagues, and that of our entire musical community. Much of the most artistically adventurous work in Chicago isn’t unionized, and we take a leap of faith every time we work for each other.
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