What does it take to manage an orchestra?main
Zarin Mehta, executive director of the New York Philharmonic, was paid $1 million last year, down from $2.6m the year before. No reflection on his efforts and achievement. The previous sum included ‘deferred compensation’ – which suggests he has been stacking up his bonuses over several years.
Apart from Deborah Borda in Los Angeles, who also runs the Hollywood Bowl, Zarin Mehta is the highest paid orchestral executive in America and, hence, the world.
A million bucks seems an awful lot of money for managing a band. What has Zarin Mehta done before? Managed another band in Montreal and the festival in Ravinia. Before that, he was an accountant.
In the August issue of The Strad magazine, out now, I discuss the skill sets required to run an orchestra and wonder why more musicians don’t step up to the plate. It’s a well-paid job with a good pension plan and it brings in many times what most players, who study for years to perfect their craft, can dream of earning. Rocket science, it ain’t. Job security is great: very few orchestral managers ever get the sack. I know some who cling to the job for 25 years and more, never taking a risk or venturing an original idea.
So why aren’t there more candidates for the role? And why aren’t Philharmonic musicians telling their board that when Mr Mehta, 72, hangs up his abacus, the next boss should be picked from the strings?
Read more in The Strad.