My take on musicians on strike

Hard decisions by both management and union organizers affecting classical music

I'm going to make a lot of enemies with this post. I'll probably get told I'm unreasonable and it may even affect my future in terms of orchestra administration, but sometimes it's important to take a stand.


Composing music is my real passion. So, I'm not sure I really fit with either the administrative camp or the musician camp. When I get paid by an orchestra (not including my day job) it's for a piece of music. It's a one time payment whether it's for a commission or performance rights to an existing work.

However, the musicians are the core to the orchestra. As Music Director for TwtrSymphony, I am certain I spend more time worried about the details of orchestra operation than any of the musicians. I might even go so far as to say I worry about it more than all the musicians put together. But that doesn't change the fact, the music comes out of the musicians. They are who and what you hear. In terms of payroll, they come first.

We just launched a Kickstarter today in hopes to raise money for a CD project - new music for a new audience in a new way. The bulk of the money we raise will go to the musicians. It won't come even close to being the kind of pay the musicians of San Francisco Symphony or Minnesota Symphony Orchestra would expect to receive. Still, the point is, the majority of our budget is for making the music.

Let's move into the future four or five years. Should TwtrSymphony get to the point we have enough interest (read: enough money) to pay musicians full time employment, I am determined the Music Director position of TwtrSymphony will never exceed that of any of the core musicians.

I don't want to get into quibbles over whether musicians in one city are worth as much or more than those in another city. I do think administration (and the boards that oversee them) need to look at who is getting paid what. If you have management that is making more than the musicians, why? Is their role really more important than the people on stage making the music.

TwtrSymphony believes the musicians come first.


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