Dallas puts on concert for players in hardship

Only in America?


“Many of our closest friends and colleagues have found themselves dealing with unexpected health emergencies and hardships,” Kim Noltemy, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s president and CEO, says in a release. “This concert will provide funding for a grant program that will give members of the DSO family a way to bridge the gap at a time when they need it most.”

Struggling orchestra and staff members can apply for grants from the fund to “reduce financial stress as their families deal with serious illnesses,” the organization says, adding, “[t]he most visible of those are health emergencies where the difference between the funds provided by long-term disability and financial obligations can be substantial.”

Read on here.

This is the orchestra that paid its last music director a $5 million salary.


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  • Your comment about Jaap van Sweden’s $5 million salary is wrong. That was not his annual salary. It specifically included a donation made by a single private donor as a restricted gift exclusively to pay to van Zweden as a signing bonus for one year. It was not paid directly from orchestra funds and it did not originate from the orchestra. His actual salary that year was $1,788,997. High enough for sure, but far from $5 million plus. I thought this was well known here.

  • None of this would be necessary if the US joined the civilised world and implemented universal health care programmes. But that might involve revisions in taxes, something Americans seem pathologically averse to.

    • Maybe universal health care would be good, but would you want THIS government running it? The VA system is terrible and neither Democrats or Republicans can or will fix it. The US government is full of incompetent, lazy, corrupt, under-worked and over-paid “workers”. I like my privately paid for insurance. It’s great.

      • I trust you’re not yet 65 and therefore not on Medicare, which most beneficiaries like just fine.

        I would like to ask if you are in favor of the death penalty. Because if you don’t think the government can run a health or health insurance system, why would you believe it could unerringly convict and execute only guilty people? Or would some rate of error be acceptable?

        BTW, I’m not going to defend the VA, which has a monumental task before it.
        But instead of spouting the usual stereotypes about government workers, you should go work for a government agency. You’ll be amazed at the expertise and professionalism of so many of them.

        • I worked for a government run psych hospital for over a decade. It was decertified and could not regain certification for 8 years. There were many lazy incompetent cronies there who kept their jobs while people who tried to blow the whistle (me) were ousted. Patients died and still nothing happened. Finally a flood hit and that was what got it shut down.

          And look at this recent NYT story:
          Social Security and Medicare Funds Face Insolvency, Report Finds

          • Yeah, the government is big and not everything runs perfectly. Never said it did. And many times there are great people in a flawed system. But Cubs Fan was slamming government workers generally, not systems.

      • The choice is essentially between well-meaning incompetence in the public sector and competent maliciousness in the private sector.

        I for one would be willing to try the former.

      • Cubs Fan writes “I like my privately paid for insurance. It’s great.”

        Private insurance works while people are healthy and able to work. The problem comes when they become old or ill. The key issue is how to provide medical cover to those who aren’t able to pay for their medical needs themselves. Universal healthcare is a very efficient way of covering everyone, and has been implemented in every other modern wealthy society.

    • Taxes? No. What we are averse to is governmental control over our bodies. No quotas, waiting lists or restrictions dictated to us by people we do not trust. Eminently civilized, that.

  • Instead of paying their employees a living wage, the DSO decided to put together a grant program? The DSO could easily pay the staff more, but that would require paying musicians less, and if that happened the musician’s union would call for a strike. I’m very pro-union, but when the lowest paid member of the union is making six figures, you start to wonder why it’s necessary.

    • For your “wage” idea to solve the problem they would need to pay everyone individually enough to cover ever possible disaster that could ever possibly befall them.

    • And Ryan Anthony wouldn’t otherwise become principal trumpet emeritus at this young an age. He has been a source of inspiration to another musician battling cancer who’s an old friend of mine. Good for the DSO to start such a fund.

  • Let’s all not be so churlish about this. Why not take it face value: an orchestra looking for a way to help some folks in need. Why question such a good deed?

  • Hmm. The Dallas SO players are pretty decently paid and I assume have good health and disability insurance. But I won’t fault them for trying to help colleagues in need.

  • I agree that this would be less necessary if the US and especially states like Texas had better social services. In Europe things like government health care are available to everyone; it is not a means tested program like medicaid which is only available to the poorest. Many people fall through the cracks and even private health insurance companies are becoming stingier and stingier with benefits. Although housing prices are much cheaper in Texas than in say, New York City or San Francisco after income taxes, which in Texas is all federal $100,000 is not a lot if one is raising a family or has other dependents, although it is far higher than the median US salary.
    As far as the comment about lazy civil servants are concerned — I wonder if Cubs Fan has actually worked in a government bureaucracy. I have worked for government agencies all my adult life as a caseworker and as a nurse and I work damn hard!

  • The salaries paid to orchestra members in the USA seems to be rather high compared to the rest of the world , which is fine. On the other hand, if you can no longer play due to injury or old age, the USA is the last place to be. I have noticed that American orchestras (to the extent I have experienced them) have more older players than elsewhere. Could it be that retirement in the USA is financially undesirable, unless one invested wisely?

    • My read of American orchestras is just the opposite, Mustafa. Lot’s of young players. Lots of women and minorities too. If you want to see old, look at the German symphony orchestras.

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