Chief fire officer races to another US orchestra

Chief fire officer races to another US orchestra


norman lebrecht

June 05, 2019

David Hyslop, America’s chief orchestral fireman, has been hauled in to stabilise the Orlando Philharmonic, which has just lost its latest boss inside three years.

David, 76, was CEO at the Oregon Symphony (1972-1978), St. Louis Symphony (1978-1991), and Minnesota Orchestra (1991-2003) before pulling on a helmet and embracing a fireman’s life. Calming down boards, horong new conductors, he must have plucked at least ten orchestras by now from the burning.



  • Doug says:

    The problem is the Music Director in the US has far too much influence over the board. US orchestras should adopt the Intendant model where a conductor is hired to focus on the building the orchestra and repertoire, period. If he fails—HE’S FIRED—just like a marketing detector who fails would be treated or a finance director. The problem now is when conductors weasel out of the situation by sweet talking the board and pinning the blame on the manager.

    • Edgar says:

      marketing detector – I love the typo…:-)

    • Jaime Herrera says:

      Conductors are overpaid. Conductors, like soloists, should be paid by the hour or per service or by the gig. That change alone would save many orchestras a lot of heartache. I know a few conductors of third tier orchestras (with very short seasons) who make $1,200 bucks per hour – assuming a season that requires no more than 360 hours of preparation. They don’t even come close to filling a hall either. Of course, the top tier conductors make a LOT more than this. It’s a great racket to be in.

      • Greg Tiwidichitch says:

        That may be true higher up but isn’t everyone at the top (CEO’s, quarterbacks, etc) overpaid? The majority of conductors who labor in relative obscurity in the innumerable little orchestras across the world are NOT paid like that. Musicians are overpaid too if you look at the $380-400K concertmasters in top US orchestras are paid. Base salary in big city orchestras is pushing $140K. Compared to the rest of the world, all of the above is overpayment.

      • Anon! A Moose! says:

        “Conductors, like soloists, should be paid by the hour or per service or by the gig. ”

        I think of orchestra musicians (including conductors and really, anyone involved) more like doctors- you pay for what they know, not what they actually do. Maybe this week I’m only being asked to play Tchaik serenade for strings and a beethoven symphony, but next week is Mahler and Takemitsu and Ellington the week after- orchestras are capable of doing so much more than what they do in any particular week.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Dave Hyslop has a strong record in terms of helping orchestras out. I’m guessing Orlando will be quite a challenge.

  • Ed Salvog says:

    OPO has had a bad decade, starting with an inexplicable board decision not to renew a popular music director under whose tenure subscriptions more than tripled, coupled with a series of questionable managers. Hope they can turn it around.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    It’s hard to compete with Mickey Mouse and the Magic Kingdom.

    Orlando has historically had a hard time with sustaining an orchestra.

    This may be one challenge that is too hard to fix.