I’ve received the following inside story from a US orchestra that, far from the limelight, has been undergoing a similar upheaval to the Brazil Symphony Orchestra with Roberto Minczuk. To what effect? You might well ask. Here’s the letter, all identifying names deleted.
Dear Mr. Lebrecht:
I have been following your coverage of events in Brazil with a bit
more than keen interest as a large number of musicians in xxxxx
have suffered the same fate.
After our long time conductor left some 10 years ago, his replacement
was hired after a national search. This very young “maestro” (as he
insisted on being called) did not have his predecessor’s finesse nor
ability to “teach” an orchestra of part-time musicians. Thus, his
first season with the symphony was lackluster at best.
His solution? Fire a host of players and most of the artistic and
eventually management staff. What we are left with is a regional
orchestra (at best) that has to reach wider and wider to obtain
players willing to perform here. Needless to say, in the past ten
years, the orchestra’s staff has ballooned, the budget doubled and the
number of performances decreased. The remaining “local” musicians are
downtrodden at best but continue to play because there is no other
opportunity in the immediate area.
The Board of Directors as well as the orchestra management is
convinced that the orchestra sounds “better than ever” (it doesn’t–at
best it’s the same).
I just wanted to let you know that such problems exist beyond the
reach of major media markets in orchestras devoid of adequate union or