Saving Money or Shooting ourselves in the Foot
I have applied to several places to continue my education in music composition(Juilliard and Yale - with strong consideration given to Manhattan School of Music and the Eastman Conservatory). The purpose is to ultimately work in the field, to compose music for a living. While I may turn to teaching future students, the goal is to make my living through the music I write, whether it be for film, opera, ballet, orchestral or chamber performances. In order for me to succeed, I need performers who are willing to perform this music. For that to happen these performers need to be able to live, to work, to earn money as musicians. And one way for them to do that is to play in ensembles (orchestras) that provide live music for performances, like ballet.
Broadway musicians shut down a number of musicals with a strike back in 2003. Much of their complaint was the minimum number of musicians to constitute an orchestra; producers wanted the minimum to be 7, which means many of them would be replaced with pre-recorded samples played on a keyboard. While the new minimum would have been great for keyboard players, it would have put a lot of musicians out of work.
Denver Colorado used to have a World Class Orchestra. I remember concerts in the parks as a highlight of my childhood. However, the orchestra went bankrupt; it couldn't afford to operate. Colorado has an orchestra now, sort of what came out of the mess that was the Denvery Symphony Orchestra. But rumors are it isn't as good, and more stretched as the expecations are the orchestra needs to travel more than just serve the Denver Metropolitan area.
If we continue to push the "poor economy" button and axe music, musical performances and the use of musicians we will force more of the students we have studying music to choose other courses. This means the number of students we have to choose from for future orchestras will be less, and ultimately more difficult to get quality performances in anywhere but the most populace areas. New York won't suffer, as a cultural Mecca, it will always be a draw for world class musicians. But places like Miami or Denver (let alone the smaller communities around the world) will begin to be drained for quality musicians as they'll go where the money is. With fewer musicians competing for jobs, the musicians in the more remote regions will move to the bigger cities.
The future is bright - or it can be. There is a lot of new music to be had, new works composed, new musicians coming up through the ranks. But we, as a society, need to want these musicians, need to demand they be present during performances. Yes, I enjoy listening to recorded music, but it can't replace the effect a live performance has. Keep musicians working; our future depends on it.