Concertmaster vs orchestra: Now there’s a court date

Concertmaster vs orchestra: Now there’s a court date


norman lebrecht

September 29, 2019

Concertmaster Holly Mulcahy will face the Chattanooga Symphony in court on February 6, 2020.

The road to justice is congested.



  • The View from America says:

    Q. Why is there so much strife and litigation in the classical music world?

    A. Because the stakes are so low.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    It is remarkable how many cities there are in the USA that foreigners may never heard of, & they all have a symphony orchestra. It may be an interesting country to visit after all, provided one is prepared to drive (hardly a country renowned for its public transport).

    • RW2013 says:

      Sorry, still not an incentive to go there.

      • Vaquero357 says:

        Uh, you talking about Chattanooga or the U.S.A. as a whole? For the city, yeah, probably not the first place a foreign visitor should go to. Hit the cities with the big classical music institutions, and you’ll find it comfortingly familiar. Remember, we’re a country of 330 million people, so even though only about 4% of the population has an interest in classical music, that’s still a very large audience.

    • Pauker says:

      There is hardly a city anywhere in the world below 8,000,000 that most American have ever heard of!

    • Vaquero357 says:

      You got it, Mustafa: there are many excellent regional orchestras in the U.S. that American music lovers in other parts of the country have never heard – or heard of – let alone the ensembles’ reputations making it to Europe. You’d be surprised at the quality of the musicianship!

      That said, I’ve never heard the Chattanooga Symphony, so I can’t make a comment on them. Ms Mulcahy’s other orchestra, the Wichita Symphony, is an *excellent* ensemble. The city is pretty far away from other music centers, but I certainly had a “wow, am I in Wichita” moment the first time I heard them.

      But yeah, this country is HUGE and the distances between cities are sometimes quite vast. There’s just no way we can afford economical public transportation between a lot of them, except by airplane.

      As for the litigation between violinist and orchestra, there’s gotta be more to the story. “Hey, Holly we bit off more than we can chew with the ABC piece – mind if we substitute Brahms instead?” There has to be some reason why she minded.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        “There’s just no way we can afford economical public transportation between a lot of them, except by airplane.”

        High speed rail would suit many journeys between cities in the US. And in many cases would cover the costs of running the system. Of course, it is difficult (and expensive) to get the first pair done, and very time-consuming.

  • JPAULO says:

    I am guessing there is more to this than a simple cancelled or postponed concerto performance that she wants to be paid for ?? Something seems odd. Orchestra programs sometimes get changed. In the current climate of orchestra struggles just to stay afloat, I say pay her what she is asking, then fire her. This publicity and cost can’t possibly do an orchestra of this level any good.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    She may have to sell her fiddle to pay for the lawyers’ costs if things don’t go well !

  • Plush says:

    She’s making an example of herself at HER expense. O, how foolish is an activist.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Not sure if she wins it will do her that much good. Not many orchestras would be willing to hire a soloist who sues.

      • JoAnn says:

        Instead of “sues” I would suggest that she is standing up for what she believes strongly in. Sometimes you just have to take a giant step out of your comfort zone to do the right thing. I strongly feel this might be the case in this matter and might even be a positive for the entire orchestra. I, for one, would really hate to see her leave Chattanooga.

  • Sourmash says:

    There sure seem to be an awful lot of people here who assume the violinist is at fault. It makes one wonder whether these people have a clandestine allegiance. Chattanooga’s favorite son, composer George Clinton, wrote a concerto for this violinist, and it was premiered in Chattanooga to rave reviews. It was CSO’s biggest concert of the year. The two of them are now playing this concerto with various orchestras around the country. So what do you suppose prompted this litigation? I suspect that the CSO management has simply failed to appreciate the diamond in its midst. Mulchay has always been very active in promoting CSO, and she has been very instrumental in fleshing out its skeletal ranks with high-quality players. I doubt that talent will continue to frequent CSO once she is gone. Mulchay is a master of outreach, and what she used to do for CSO, she is now doing for another orchestra. She will take her enthusiasm and move on, and CSO will be relegated to the two-bit pickup orchestra it was before she came.

  • There I said it says:

    This lawsuit is allowing Holly to expand beyond her comfort zone to work with others outside the organization (mainly expensive lawyers) to solve problems she was unable to resolve on her own.
    She’s found a new tool to address her workplace challenges…Lawsuits! Look out future employers; her personal leadership brand is clearly caustic and unreasonable, an upgrade from the narcissistic overcooked self promotion we were so used to before.

    • What exactly are you trying to say? says:

      What an oddly specific comment from someone who sounds like they must have first hand knowledge. Why is there so much anger and malice? Does lashing out help you feel better?

    • Now we see says:

      This is clearly a comment from CSO management. You can’t really read this as anything other than a disgruntled employer’s quip. It illustrates a level of childish indignation that instantly makes it obvious why it was necessary to sue. What artist could work in an environment where the management thinks that airing its grievances in an online forum is a viable way to address its problems? If there was any doubt about the veracity of Holly’s lawsuit, you just cleared it up with this petty attempt at character assassination. Thanks for showing us all what she’s been dealing with in Chattanooga!

      • There I said it says:

        Oh, honey. I’m watching from the sidelines. I have no personal or professional relationship with either her or the CSO.

        I’m just sick of the self promotion, high horse coming from one Holly regarding this lawsuit. I have no first hand knowledge other than the months of recent ticket promotion pushing Holly and her stupid rose of senora. Have you bought your tickets yet? Only a few remain! I cannot over emphasize the need for you to be at the rose of senora! Tickets tickets buy buy buy.

        • What exactly are you trying to say? says:

          This is so obviously a manager. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Do everyone a favor and get back on your meds…then get a different job.

          • Now we see MORE says:

            “Get back on your meds,” now that’s funny! And yes, this is obviously a manager covering her tracks. (There’s a gender hint for you.) Who could possibly be ruffled by an artist promoting her wares and, thus, the very orchestra she leads? This is undeniably someone who follows Holly on Facebook, and if you’re not a fan, why follow her? There is, after all, an unfollow button. “Stupid Rose of Senora (sic)?” Sounds like this has caused you some heartburn, no? Given the rave reviews and audience reaction as well as the continued success of the piece around the country, who could be offended by this? My guess is that it is the very person who is trying to get rid of Chattanooga’s beloved Concertmaster. Who else would be ruffled by an artist promoting her craft and championing a work by Chattanooga’s favorite son, George S. Clinton? Who else could be threatened by the popularity of Rose of Sonora and its champion? I would say that it would have to be someone standing in direct opposition to Holly Mulchay and George S. Clinton. This is a really stupid hill to die on. So yes, “Get back on your meds.” You clearly have a screw loose.