Monday, March 16, 2009

Shreveport Symphony musicians offer response to recent remarks in the media about the musicians' strike

Striking musicians of the Shreveport Symphony have again attempted to place their case before the public following recent remarks. Here's an excerpt from their letter:

What is the Shreveport Symphony? The Board seems to believe the SSO is whatever musicians they can get to play for what they want to pay.

We believe the SSO is a specific group of highly talented musicians who have worked together for many years, who have a rapport with the symphony audience, are long-standing members of the community and are involved in every aspect of the musical life of the Ark-La-Tex and the musical education of its children.

The musicians of the SSO wish to reaffirm our desire to see this conflict resolved so we can return to the stage and perform. Unfortunately the Board has refused to move from its initial offer since it was first presented and rejected by us over 17 months ago. Libby Siskron stated, "The board won't see a 60-year organization die without a fight." The question is whether fighting the musicians of the symphony is the way to save the organization.

The statement represents the thoughts of musicians Peter Haas, Thomas Hundemer, Mike Scarlato, Rick Rowell and Theresa Zale.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

The symphony was on good financial footing at the end of last season and the symphony was sounding fantastic and drawing good crowds. So why can't we vote the executive director and board members out and get our symphony going again with a new board that is willing to work to get our musicians performing again. Our community so needs the symphony. It is time for the current executive director and board to leave so we can get our symphony going again!!!

Kathryn Usher said...

Pesky musicians why do they want money any way? They should just be pink-tickled to get the privilege to play in the SSO. Do they think they are equal to other professionals in the area like doctors, lawyers and bankers?

It's not like they have to go years and years of school and get loans they have to pay back. Anyone can be a musician. I say lets raid myspace and dress up some folks in tuxes, slap shiny instruments in their hands and play records over the speakers...what's so great about live music created in that moment anyway?

P.S. I just thought of another way to save money since the new musicians won't actually play they can just mime their instruments. We save there. And we can get the records from the Annual Centenary Book Sale. Support a good cause while we're at it.

Anonymous said...

yes but we must all pay ROYALTIES!!!!!! on that prerecorded music....& they add up...so maybe live music & real musicians are cheaper...

Anonymous said...

Is the SSO planning on using any pre-recorded music soon?

Anonymous said...

I would amend the last sentence of Mr. Trudeau's post to read as follows: The statement represents the thoughts of the SSO musicians, core and per-service alike, as expressed by Peter Haas, Thomas Hundemer, Mike Scarlato, Rick Rowell, and Theresa Zale-Bridges

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I meant to sign the previous post. Mike Scarlato

Anonymous said...

I love the orchestra as much as anyone. Long time attendee who has a music degree.

But let's just face facts here. You're selling a product not many people want to buy anymore. At least not enough to support full-time musicians.

No offense, but just because the musicians want (and in ideal world probably deserve) to be full-time, that doesn't necessarily entitle them to be one, does it?

How many players on LSU's football team make it to the NFL despite how much they train and want to be a full-time athlete?

Anonymous said...

The NFL (being the major league) would be the equivalent of the Chicago Symphony or New York Philharmonic (major orchestras), so the comparison isn't quite accurate. However, many cities like Shreveport (and even smaller) have minor league teams that are full-time, professional and successful (The Sports, for example). Imagine what a lousy team they'd make if they only got together part time on weekends with different people every time! We're not wanting to hear amateur scrimmages with the symphony here but a minor league professional orchestra that plays outstandingly is immensely doable.

Anonymous said...

Okay, let's use your analogy.

What happened to the [old] Captains/Swamp Dragons? What happened to the Central League where the Sports first played? Interest waned, revenue went down, and changes to the organization were made.... The Captains were a AA team affiliated with the Giants, etc. and the new Captains started over and are in an independent league.

Anonymous said...

You're missing the point. The symphony wasn't in financial trouble. They ended the last season with no debt and no deficit. Attendance was up. There was no reason for them to make this drastic move. The board tried to make a major power play and it failed. Unfortunately, they've ruined things for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but that's just one year. If their statement is to believed that's only happend twice in six years with an overall loss of $1.2 MM since 2001.

Again, I totally empathize with the musicians and enjoy their efforts regularly but there's a point where you just have to face reality, right? There are much larger cities out there with quality per service orchestras (e.g., Austin, Oklahoma City, Las Vegas, Fresno, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Who has handled the running of the orchestra since 2001? Marketing, Development, outreach, budgeting, scheduling? Perhaps these folks haven't done as well as they were expected. Are these same people still in place?

Regarding other per service orchestras, a resource must be available from which to hire highly qualified musicians. Without these musicians who specifically auditioned (some many years ago) to fill a "full time" position not a "per service" position in the Shreveport Symphony, where would their highly qualified counterparts come from? If not here in Shreveport, then where? How far away?

Just curious

Anonymous said...

Even though it might seem like it, I'm definitely not pro-management in all of this. I'm just a realist. If these guys aren't doing their jobs then, yes, they should be eliminated. But classical music is dying everywhere so I hesitate to blame it all on management. Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, etc. have all had major fiscal problems as of late.

With regards to where the players would come from, I know more than a handful of musicians in other places willing to take a loss (because of travel expenses) on a gig just to get the experience and have a chance to learn the repetoire. I can't imagine it'd be different for Shreveport especially since there are regular members who drive from Dallas, Monroe, Natchitoches, etc. as it stands.

No, the orchestra won't be as good without full-time musicians. But I definitely think it will be respectable and not amateur-ish. And I doubt that the vast majority of the attendees will know the difference.

Anonymous said...

Classical music is not dying. At a low ebb perhaps but not dying. Orchestras have been at this crossroads many times before and we've heard talk of orchestral music on the verge of extinction. Yet it never happens and eventually the orchestral tide rolls back in. The SSO, at any rate, was enjoying increased ticket sales and the audience pretty much showed up for the concerts.

Anonymous said...

RE earlier post:"Regarding other per service orchestras, a resource must be available from which to hire highly qualified musicians. Without these musicians who specifically auditioned (some many years ago) to fill a "full time" position not a "per service" position in the Shreveport Symphony, where would their highly qualified counterparts come from?"

I don't understand the mentality that just because some of the musicians auditioned many years ago for a full time position that there should not be flexibility to make necessary changes in order for the organization to survive. Do they really think that they are immune from the downsizing and lay-offs that are pervasive in today's economic situation? They made the choice to pursue careers in a field that has a limited audience and therefore limited funding--especially in Shreveport. Maybe they should have a group session with some of their union buddies over at GM to get a new perspective on today's situation. I feel sorry for the musicians' plight but they really need to come to grips with reality. I want to hear our symphony perform again, after all it has been around for more than 60 years. None of these striking musicans have been here nearly that long.

Anonymous said...

Please use Robert's link to read the entire letter. 1)The full time musicians gave up 27% of their salary before this round of negotiations. 2)The symphony's "business plan" is actually more not less expensive than having a full time core. 3) Without a core to do day time services the symphony has fewer opportunities to apply for grants and outreach which means fewer opportunities to raise money.

LennyBSharp said...

Sorry to see this happen, but if asked, I'd bet 97% of the people in this town don't realize the symphony is on strike. One day the Shreveport Times will go away and a year later probably 97% of the people in this town won't realize its gone. Maybe there is a lesson...

The Symphony has tried numerous things over the years to broaden their appeal. They have featured programs of more accesible music and brought in guest artists who had more mainstream appeal. They have tried music education programs in the schools. None of these endeavors seems to have resonated with the music buying public. I wish this weren't the case. This strike, like the last major league baseball strike, has made losers out of everyone. I can understand the musicians feeling like they have been painted into a corner, but I guess this is a city where being a professional classical musician is at best an avocation rather than a vocation.

Anyone who still needs their classical music fix, dust off your turntable and go check out the classical LPs at Campus Collectibles on Kings Hwy. I spent $41 there the other day and left with 14 LPs.

Anonymous said...

Redneck Factor - a negative multiplier used in executive summaries that measure "quality of life" and "business activity." Used in strategic planning by both private industry and public sector to decide whether to relocate industry, jobs, and residents of high levels of education and wealth to an area. No symphony = high Redneck Factor. Last time I checked, that area of the country seemed to be last or near last at everything in major categories. But I think the ArkLaTex as it's called, might be positioning themselves to be at the top of the Redneck Factor list.

Anonymous said...

Cast not your pearls before swine; you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear, etc., etc.
You're in Louisiana, for God's sake! I think everyone knows the level of education and breeding, (or lack thereof), found in this part of the country.
I'm shocked they ever actually had an orchestra, and even more shocked they held on to it as long as they did.