Another striking orchestra? Ho-hum.
So now the San Francisco Symphony has been shut down by a labor dispute too? I know — as a proud member of the classicalsphere, I'm supposed to be all over this, prepared to describe and debate the fine points of the musicians' demands and management's response. And yes, I should be hip to how this case differs from the other recent or ongoing cases of Minnesota, St. Paul, Chicago, Atlanta...did I miss any?
Forgive me; I have neither the patience nor the stomach to get down to the nitty-gritty each time. Basically, I wish for all participants in all of these disputes, indeed of all American orchestras, to go away and lock themselves in a room somewhere, not to be let out until they've come up with a plan that, for the next 25 years or so, will keep orchestras off of the business pages and in the arts section where they belong. Of course, that would very likely lead them to the conclusion that going forward, there will be fewer orchestras in America playing fewer concerts. Better, though, to plan wisely for this eventuality than to have it come as a suprise. In any case, it strikes me that the individual merits and demerits of each instance of an orchestra silenced is less meaningful than what all the cases mean in totality: There are systemic problems with the financing of American orchestras that need to be dealt with if we want to keep enjoying the music.
Go ahead; knock me for my head-in-the-sand attitude. Sure beats having to wade constantly through the likes of the nasty back-and-forth on the San Francisco situation that manged to penetrate my firewall over the weekend. Here's an investment broker's nasty, musically ignorant analysis of the striking San Francisco musicians' demands. And here's a classical blogger's equally unpleasant response, as unmindful of financial realities as his adversary was of music-making. Does either party sound ready to listen to the other's perspective, find common ground and advise a way for the orchestra to move forward for the benefit of both management and musicians — not to mention the benefit of us in the audience? Hardly. Neither offers a workable solution, or presents a prescription for bringing the sides together. Not helpful, people!
But now that I've brought it up, maybe I will join the fray at least once. For what it's worth, I think I can provide a perspective that might be at least slightly enlightening. And no one can accuse me this time of pontificating on a subject I know nothing about. For the focus of my comments will be something about which I'm the world's leading expert: Me. Stay tuned later this week for the next thrilling episode of the New England Public Radio Classical Blog, when your friendly local classical radio host asks the age-old musical question: "Am I getting paid what I deserve?"