A deadline is reached at midnight in the standoff between the musicians and management of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut. If the players refuse to accept further cuts, the orchestra will be shut down.
Hartford is a nice place in a fairly wealthy region. But it seems the locals have lost the will to sustain a concert life.
pictured: music director Carolyn Kuan
The players, who are employed on a per-session basis, have issued this statement:
The musicians of the HSO are salaried professionals. We are here to work. We have offered to forgo wage increases in order to keep the product competitive. We have done our part. It’s now time for management to stop misrepresenting a situation that it has created.
It is management’s job to manage, not dismantle, our organization. It is management’s job to promote and sell its product, which is live orchestral music performed by the musicians of the HSO. Cutting the product is not an option. In order to fulfill its mission, the HSO needs to grow its product. Creating a scarcity not only diminishes the product itself, but deprives the community of that which it values. An orchestra must work together on a regular basis to achieve and maintain the level of excellence that the public expects and deserves.
Here is the HSO’s stated mission:
“We believe passionately in the performance of live symphonic music and its value in the community. To that end, the mission of the HSO is to perform live orchestral music of the highest quality forever expanding audiences, and to increase through its educational programs the understanding and enjoyment of that music by residents in Connecticut.”
Clearly the HSO has forgotten this mission. Look at its unprecedented pullback of performances and educational programs. Last year saw the cancellation of both a chamber orchestra series and the well established Jazz and Strings series. More importantly, the HSO’s in-school educational programming has diminished to the point of near nonexistence. Core musicians once went into the schools over 25 times per year. This season, under the new HSO management, most of the musicians have yet to perform in a single school. These programs are a key component of the HSO’s stated mission. They are also key to justifying its status as a not for profit entity.