Dear Symphony Orchestra Administrations: A Letter of Regret

Dear Symphony Orchestra Administrations: A Letter of Regret
Saturday evening musings...

Dear Symphony Orchestra Administrations:

I truly hate to have to write you in this way, but I am beyond trying to understand you.

Could the reason your orchestra is losing money, going down the tubes, unable to run a company, is because your heads are firmly up your asses???

Now, don't get defensive!!! It is simply a question, based on some observations.

Orchestral Administration has two basic facets: artistic and business. Why must you disrespect both? I am wondering what the payoff is.

Artists are not difficult. You, as an administration, make it difficult. You refuse to see them, and thus, refuse to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. A little secret I want to share with you - the only reason they seem "difficult" is because you have refused to see them for what they are, and ask them what would make them comfortable. I can assure you, they will not ask for the sun, moon and stars, but simply to be given respect in action and deed and a paycheck commiserate with their talent and fee base.

We know there is a recession. What was the excuse 10 years ago? What will be the excuse 5 years from now? If you ask an artist to take a pay cut, are you cutting the ticket prices for your season too? Are YOU taking a salary cut? Wouldn't it simply be said that without a season, and the artists to execute it, that you would not have a job, and therefore, NO salary?

Just musing...of course...

Should artists not be respected for their expertise and ability to execute that expertise in the form of craft and performance? Should that not count for something?

And what about that business portion? Why do you continually refuse to acknowledge how business operates? Why do many businessmen and women who are asked to sit on your boards leave - disgusted with the operations of your company? Could it be that you refuse to see and realize how business is done?

If you are a CEO, you surround yourself with EXPERTS to build all aspects of your business - from artistic liaison to bookkeeping - and you don't always ask bottom line - but rather, what do they NEED to function at optimum levels?

Why do I see so many board members, who are highly successful business people, leaving your boards in droves and disgusted by your so-called business operations???

Could it be that your ego and your stupidity far outweigh your ability to run a company? That you refuse to recognize what is best for the building of the company in both the artistic and the business aspect of it? That you don't know how to spend money to make money? That you hide behind whatever is convenient in order to save your ego and not the integrity of your orchestra?

If an orchestra is a business, why is it not being run thus? If an orchestra hires artists, why are those artists treated like 2nd class citizens??? Or worse, why is there a segregation and hierarchy of "star" versus "artist" - at the ego-stricken whim of an administration?

There are egos and personalities in EVERY business. Yet, many are successful. Why are you not? What are you missing? Perhaps it would be better to look in the mirror and actually SEE what's there. Do you know ANYTHING about artistic development, artistic integrity?

Do you know that when you program something on your season, you really should have the artistic talent to execute it???

Do you recognize the difference between "standard" repertoire, like Handel's Messiah, that is much easier to find soloists for, and "specialized" repertoire, like "Kindertotenlieder" that require - perhaps the few people in the world who can do it? Are you paying attention to this?

Why do you advertise concerts and sell tickets, and not have soloists booked?? Do you feel so entitled that you believe you will be able to just find someone without issue and will work for whatever fee you deem "appropriate"?

Why are you consistently seeing the cost of things and the worth of nothing? Cost and worth are not the same thing...Your business sense would tell you that. Do you have ANY sense of that?? Or have you alienated your business liaisons completely - those people who have business sense, acumen and talent - who could help you build this business? Know how to build a business? Would give of their time and talent to do so?

Has your inflated ego and sense of ignorance, and frankly your stupidity, stood in the way of creating a TRUTH through artistic balance and balanced books?

Perhaps, looking at the state of things, you have.

Perhaps it will hurt a little to pull your head out of your ass. But you stuck it up there. We did not. We warned you. Your ego made the decision. It might hurt a little, but you'll breathe a little better and might learn a few things. Like not to stick it up there again, and perhaps spend some time learning about artists, and about business and about - success!

Most sincerely,

Someone who sees you!

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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