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Classical Music
Janelle Gelfand on the classical music scene

Janelle's pen has taken her to Japan, China, Carnegie Hall, Europe (twice), East and West Coasts, and Florida. In fact, Janelle was the first Enquirer reporter to report from Europe via e-mail -- in 1995.

Janelle began writing for the Cincinnati Enquirer as a stringer in 1991 while writing a Ph.D. dissertation in musicology at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She joined the Enquirer staff in 1993.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she graduated from Stanford University, Janelle has lived in Cincinnati for more than 30 years. In her free time, this pianist plays chamber music with her circle of musical friends in Cincinnati.

She covers the Cincinnati Symphony, May Festival and Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, chamber music ensembles, and as many recitals and events at CCM and NKU as possible.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Columbus Symphony musicians reject "final offer"

I'm wondering if the Columbus Symphony will cease to exist, given the state of affairs right now. Last Thursday night, the musicians in the Columbus Symphony voted to reject the orchestra board's final offer for a new contract.

The offer included a 40 percent pay cut for the 53 full-time musicians, from $55,200 to $33,000. Musicians were also required to pay 30 percent of their monthly health insurance premiums. Part-time musicians, now paid $150 per rehearsal and concert, would be reduced to $100.

Douglas Fisher, president of the Central Ohio Federation of Musicians Local 103, tells me that 10 to 20 local Cincinnati area musicians regularly play in that orchestra.

Here's a link to the Columbus Dispatch story.

And here's a link to a letter to the citizens of Columbus, from principal clarinetist David Thomas.

What do you think? Should Columbus continue to support a symphony?

What will this mean for area musicians who play with that orchestra?


at 4/28/2008 02:39:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first blush it appears they have been trying to stick fingers in the dike to solve the problems in the recent past and really didn't step back and make the changes that needed to be done-on both sides. Perhaps the thing to do would be shut it done for the remainder of the season, evaluate, and realign the priorities and shoot for a reopening for a new season in the fall. The cold hard fact of the matter is that it appears that the marketplace is at work here and the results are falling in place. Both sides lose, but you cannot keep putting money in a failing endeavor by doing the same thing. A lesson to be learned for a orchestra that is much closer to home.

at 4/28/2008 11:31:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing the state of the arts in the capital city of Ohio. Don't forget the Columbus Opera was on the verge of collapse a couple of years ago(not the first time, that), and had to be saved by a last-minute fundraising campaign. In addition, they have bounced from venue to venue just about every year. Now the symphony fiasco.

I mean seriously, name a performance venue that comes close to the Aronoff in Columbus, and who thinks Ohio Theatre measures up to Music Hall?

Capital city indeed.

at 4/29/2008 12:01:00 PM Anonymous David Thomas said...

David Thomas thanks Janelle for linking to my letter.

There is some movement behind the scenes to shift leadership toward a more constructive path in the negotiations. The current leadership has not giving the whole story. The musicians are more than ready to negotiate in good faith, a phrase too often used without understanding of its real meaning. Unfortunately, the current leadership is more interested in getting their way than coming up with real solutions to the long term problems faced by the Columbus Symphony.

A healthy arts organization takes a lot of work by its board and management. The current "culture" of leadership has not understood the nature and scope of this kind of support. By this, I refer to building connections over years and decades, utilizing volunteers in a coordinated fashion, setting specific goals for development and then implementing them in a piece by piece manner, brainstorming on new outreach concerts in the suburbs, touring extensively in the Ohio area. Some of these ideas have not been tapped at all, some have been enacted feebly.

Arts organizations cannot succeed without "spending money to make money". So far, the most common strategy has been to simply save money. No plans after that. It has not worked for the past 5 years, and it will not work in the future.

My letter hopes to connect with those who might be on the fence. Now that funding has been given to continue operations until at least the end of this season, there is time for those behind the scenes to act.

David Thomas

at 4/30/2008 07:33:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

My goodness - I didn't realize that the arts were in such peril in Columbus. Then I remembered incidents with public funding of everything from sports arenas to arts organizations like the Opera.

It's apparent that the community in Columbus just isn't that interested in a cultural environment including classical music at a professional level.

A sad statement for a city that considers itself "progressive".

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