Who are they trying to spin in Atlanta?

Who are they trying to spin in Atlanta?


norman lebrecht

September 28, 2014

The orchestra management has issued another dubious, upbeat statement:

Earlier today, the ASO musicians’ union accepted the ASO’s request from September 17 to involve a federal mediator in the collective bargaining process. We’re so pleased with this movement and are looking forward to getting back to the table.

We know our patrons are disappointed in our decision to enter a work stoppage, but we felt it would be irresponsible to continue digging the ASO deeper into debt given the severity of our financial situation and the lack of movement from both sides during the negotiation process.

We will be using the same mediator who handled the Metropolitan Opera negotiations in August. We have been eager to take this step so we can work towards giving Atlanta the orchestra is deserves – one of artistic excellence that is able to thrive and move audiences across the world for many years to come.

The musicians responded.

This statement is in response to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s statement issued at approximately 9pm today, September 27th. We wish to correct the misleading information that WAC/ASO management distributed in that statement.

We received a formal request for mediation on Monday, September 22nd at 10:55am from WAC/ASO management. Three hours later, we accepted the suggestion to speak with Ms. Allison Beck, the Acting Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and were told that FMCS officials would be contacting us accordingly, which has not happened yet. Mediation will only be successful if the WAC/ASO management is willing to move off the terms of the demands they have been adamantly clinging to — in bad faith — since they locked us out three weeks ago tonight.

 The musicians are happy to speak with FMCS Director Beck about pathways forward when she is able to be in touch with us. There is as yet no further agreement about the process.

Meanwhile, the ASO’s principal guest conductor, Donald Runnicles, has added his voice to the chorus of dismay at the abysmal handling of this situation. Here’s what he writes:


I rarely resort to this kind of appeal for help. #DeafeningSilence – simply, profoundly, an existential call for help by a remarkable orchestra in the face of a breathtaking and incomprehensible assault on their integrity and survival. My dream is to share this with the world. If governments can be brought down through social media, then may the power be with you, to you both personally and collectively who has, who have taken the trouble to read these heartfelt words and potentially can make the difference. Share. Please share the hashtag. I have no idea if that is how one refers to this awesome machine for change. What the heck. Please. Thank you. It is with humility and gratitude that I confirm, shout out anew, my love and deep respect for the astonishing musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the no less astonishing Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Yes we can.

Freelance trombons player Anthony Wise has added his own rap take:



  • Colin Williams says:

    Thank you for another great article on the situation in Atlanta. One small correction: Anthony Wise plays with the Maylasian Philharmonic. Technically, he’s the sub-principal trombonist there.

    Always a pleasure to visit your site!

  • Amy says:

    From blogger Scott Chamberlain:
    “The misleading press release has become the story.
    The ASO was caught in a bald-face lie, and I don’t know why anyone would trust its releases ever again. Any reporter worth his or her salt is going to have to independently verify every single statement the ASO announces, right down to the dates in question.”


  • Mike says:

    On the bright side, Atlanta Symphony management is doing a good job of helping us to try and forget the Minnesota Orchestra management handling of last years lockout .

    • Amy says:

      Yeah, I dunno….for me, it’s all too reminiscent!
      Those two surely had to be conferencing these last couple of years. Stanley Romanstein was the CEO of the Minnesota Humanities Center before heading down to Atlanta to initiate the first musician lockout in 2012.
      I would think they’d have so much in common, he and Michael Henson.
      Bonuses, for example.