A conductor gives his fee to LGBT campaign

A conductor gives his fee to LGBT campaign


norman lebrecht

December 09, 2016

From Joshua Weilerstein:

Dear friends,

Like millions of Americans, I was appalled last March when the North Carolina Legislature passed the anti-LGBT bill HB2. In October, I visited North Carolina to conduct the North Carolina Symphony, and with the passage of this law, I felt that a statement must be made in support of the LGBT community of North Carolina and LGBT communities across the country. To be clear, this was a decision that I came to on my own, with no involvement from the staff, musicians, or administration of the North Carolina Symphony.

To perform with a symphonic orchestra requires a profound sense of inclusion in order to listen, respond, and communicate together. If one person in that musical community is left out, the whole ensemble can crumble. The stakes are of course much higher for the LGBT community, and their fight for inclusion and acceptance continues to this day. In the aftermath of the electoral season, I believe it is even more important to reaffirm our support for all minority communities. To that end, I would like to announce that I will be donating my performance fee for my October performances in Raleigh to Equality NC, one of the most effective LGBT rights organizations in North Carolina.


  • Talking the talk says:

    What a noble gesture from this young conductor, made even more nobel by the act of sharing it with us all.

  • V.Lind says:

    Interesting approach. A lot of celebrated artists have cancelled their appearances in North Carolina in protest over this legislation. When there is no Bruce Springsteen, there is no Bruce Springsteen concert.

    Mr. Weilerstein clearly realised that if he cancelled his invitation to conduct the NC Symphony they would simply engage someone else and the concert(s) would go on. So in accepting, donating his fee and making his reason public, he made an excellent choice of response. Well played.

    • Talking the talk says:

      Excellent for whom?

      • Max Grimm says:

        Presumably for Equality NC, who, according to Weilerstein, will receive the donation.

        • Talking the talk says:

          Would they have received any less money if he’d made the donation privately?

          But surely the truly ‘excellent response’ would have been to not conduct in this sate and given a donation to Equality NC anyway. He got the gig and the glory and people like V.Lind admiring this cynical and calculated gesture.

          • Bruce says:

            Blah blah blah.

          • V.Lind says:

            The point of these artistic withdrawals and donations is to draw attention to the perceived injustice of the bill. While a quiet donation and withdrawal of (obscure — how many people have heard of him) service, only to be replaced with someone of very comparable ability and qualifications would have been useful to the charity in question, his decision gets noticed and merits another report reminding people of this state of affairs.

          • Steinway Fanatic says:

            Geez, what a sourpuss you are!!! In essence, this fine young man went to NC at his own expense (FYI, he’s in demand everywhere – he didn’t need this provincial engagement) to draw attention to gross injustice and hypocrisy. Bravo, Maestro Weilerstein!

          • Max Grimm says:

            I personally don’t see cynicism in his gesture.
            As for it being calculated, quite possibly, particularly when one considers that the state forbade Itzhak Perlman to place a flier in the program pamphlets, explaining his position and the fact that the North Carolina Symphony is the state orchestra of North Carolina and 26% of it’s funding (possibly even Weilerstein’s fee) come from the state of North Carolina.

  • Naomi says:

    There is nothing wrong with making a calculated act of support and advocacy for a cause you believe in. I’m sure Equality NC preferred a public statement to a private one, this is how you spread awareness.

  • Talking the talk says:

    Thanks for the label of sourpuss Mr SF, presumably because I’m saying something you don’t agree with. If you are able to step out of your cosy world for a moment you may agree that the bigger headline and therefore even stronger impact would have been


    As this conductor, as you say, ‘is in demand everywhere’ donating his fee was most probably financially somewhat negligible for him, so no real loss there and so I stand by my comment he’s got the gig and the glory. We all know, with few exceptions, no conductor worth this name would let any matter of principle get in the way of a gig and so he is following loyally in this long tradition.

    BTW thanks Bruce for your thought provoking and enervating contribution. Pure gold.

    • Petunia says:

      Oh come on now, can’t you simply be happy that someone wants to do some good in the world for a change? By making his views known and his donation public, Mr. Weilerstein is spreading awareness for a noble and just cause. Calculated, maybe, but certainly not cynical!

    • Petunia says:

      And as for the question of whether he should have simply “withdrawn” from the concert, what sense is there in punishing the musicians and audience members when many (if not most) of them are likely against this legislation? The correct path, in my view, is exactly the one taken by Mr. Weilerstein. Bravo!

      • Talking the talk says:

        Goodness, yes I see your point. Why act decisively and unequivocally with as much positive impact as possible, when you can fudge the issue, appear to be acting well, in reality sacrifice nothing and still get everyone’s adulation. We should all be happy that he did something at all. And where does the ‘punishment’ come in?