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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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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spotlight on Columbus: ICSOM to try to save orchestra

Bruce Ridge of Raleigh, N.C., chair of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, will travel to Columbus next week to meet with musicians and other community members to try to save the Columbus Symphony.

"It's my hope that as an outside viewpoint, I can generate the citizens to rise up and save this orchestra. It is not too late. It is crucial that we do it," says Ridge.

He is hoping that the citizens of Columbus hear "a positive message about the future of the arts in their city." He says he frequently makes such trips to cities with orchestras in trouble, usually with positive result. He's hoping to meet with people in the community, as well as executives of the orchestra's board, musicians and representatives from the local media.

"My concern for the citizens is they have heard a uniformly negative message about the future of the arts in their city," Ridge says.

The nonprofit arts and culture in Columbus generates more than $330 million in local economic activity annually and supports more than 11,000 fulltime jobs, as shown in a study, "Arts and Economic Prosperity III," published by Americans for the Arts.

"The board seems to be putting out this message that somehow a great orchestra is not sustainable in their city. ... In being so negative, that undermines their ability to raise money for the orchstra, and they are the stewards for the orchestra," he says.

Do many American cities need to be reminded about the importance of their arts? Even though some proclaim the death of classical music, in reality, the climate of support for orchestras is strong across the country. Recent articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal proclaim this a golden age. The Nashville Symphony, for instance, has won three Grammy Awards and revitalized their city with a spectacular new concert hall.

"Other cities, with far less resources, have succeeded greatly," Ridge says. "Their success is due to visionary community leaders. Those leaders can be found in Columbus. They just need to hear this positive message and they will step up...I am certain."

YO-YO MA TO PERFORM GALA CONCERT THURSDAY

Star cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform a gala concert with the Columbus Symphony on Thursday. The orchestra's Web site says: "All proceeds will be dedicated to continuing the various artistic programs that allow us to fulfill the vital role as a leader in the arts community."

So, if there's no orchestra, where will the proceeds go?

"It's great to have Yo-Yo, but I'm not sure what they're celebrating," says bassoonist Douglas Fisher, president of the local chapter of the union.

"We have begged for weeks to bring in a third-party consultant, and they have steadfastly refused outside interference," says Fisher, who lives in Hyde Park with his wife, Catherine Carroll, a faculty member at CCM.

The musician contracts go through Aug. 31, but the orchestra has stated it will close down operations on June 1.

"So they will illegally lock us out on June 1, and we will be pursuing a grievance against them for that," Fisher says. "They'll owe us for seven weeks of work this summer."

The musician payroll is about $100,000 per week. The musicians' legal counsel is Leonard Leibowitz, an attorney based in Florida.

Drew McManus is weighing in on his blog, about the fact that the board suspended subscription renewals months before collective bargaining started. That news aside, he also provides a step-by-step plan to save the organization -- maybe.

Here's a reaction to the situation from the Cincinnati Symphony.


15 Comments:

at 5/13/2008 03:55:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

How interesting that this positive news in the Enquirer appears no where on the Columbus Dispatch Web site.

 
at 5/14/2008 01:23:00 AM Blogger NathanKahn said...

I applaud Bruce Ridge's effort to rally the Columbus community behind their orchestra. For the last 7 years I have represented the musicians of the Dayton Philharmonic in their contract negotiations, and have watched how that orchestra and their stunning performing arts center have blossomed and brought new life into a city which has suffered far more economically than Columbus. It is unfortunate that the Columbus board is so short sighted that the cannot see the disastrous economic impact that the loss of the Columbus Symphony will mean to the region. One can only conclude that the board of the Columbus Symphony doesn't like or value classical music, therefore I hope the people of Columbus will take back THEIR orchestra. The Columbus-Post Dispatch should be boycotted for their grossly distorted reporting on the CSO situation; their journalism is right down there with the worst of Nazi and Communist propaganda machines. Bravo to the fortitude of the Columbus Symphony musicians, and again, I hope the people of Columbus will take back their most wonderful orchestra!
Nathan Kahn, Negotiator
American Federation of Musicians
Symphonic Services Division

 
at 5/14/2008 12:48:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

'"....down there with the worst of Natzi and communist propaganda machines." when describing the Columbus Post-Dispatch is a little extreme don't you think? I think we are all mature enough here to seek out and accept a fair and balanced presentation of the facts by all sides in this ongoing event.The readers of Mr. Kahn's observations should keep in mind that in his role as a union negotiator his constituency is the members of his union and their interests alone. He is not the defender of art nor is he an economic prognosticator on the financial impact of a symphony in central Ohio. He views the Post-Dispatch as a hostile party in this ongoing saga, but I'm more willing to take in the writings of a free press and draw my own conclusions than the rants of individual whose narrow agenda is the benefit of the members of his union.

 
at 5/14/2008 06:15:00 PM Anonymous Drew McManus said...

The above reader makes an interesting point about affiliation. To that end, Mr. ridge and Mr. Kahn have made their affiliations known from the onset. Conversely, is it known which member(s) of the Columbus Dispatch editorial board have authored the opinion pieces related to the orchestra? For that matter, are any associations between members of the editorial board or the paper's owners and members of the Columbus Symphony known (musicians, managers, and board members alike)?

It is important to remember that the opinion of an editorial board is nothing more than the opinion of one or several individuals in a community and nothing more. Regardless of whether or not I agree with that opinion is a personal decision but the trouble in the situation at the Dispatch is that quite a bit of of the language and sentiments expressed in their opinion articles can be found in articles which should be reporting a fair and balanced view from both sides of the situation.

In full disclosure, I know Nathan Kahn and Bruce Ridge and have worked with both of them in the past, it's a small business and it's difficult not to have some sort of association with leadership figures (regardless if they are musician or management oriented) at some point or another. I have no association or past business dealings with the Columbus Dispatch editorial board.

Based on my experience observing dozens of hostile labor situations and/or financial difficulties throughout the entire orchestra business over the past several years, I have to say that the positions espoused by the Columbus Dispatch are the most one-sided and consistently aggressive I have ever observed.

 
at 5/15/2008 08:44:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an outsider, it seems to me that there is a lot of arm waving and finger pointing in Columbus, but not much support. Even a casual observer can realize that cutting salaries to the proposed level is just absurd. Likewise a reduction in a season that already seems short.

Nope - it seems like the Columbus Dispatch is reflecting the wishes of the citizens of the area and their willingness to let the CSO die on June 1.

Perhaps it should. It could be resurrected at a later date with a model that might work for the audience there.

As far as "disastrous economic impact" is concerned, the Columbus metro area hasn't had the stomach for public support of arts, or even sports venues. It just isn't part of the city culture.

Perhaps they would rather focus on Ohio State University, hockey and soccer.

 
at 5/15/2008 11:43:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drew, so eloquently stated. Thank you. I've been following this story from many different angles, Dispatch, CSO musicians Web site and (unpublished in the Disptach) press releases, etc. The facts to indeed point to the facts that the Dispatch is one-sided in its representations to the public about this issue and they are indeed not on the side of the musicians.

As far as the supporter of the Dispatch (the free press), I hope that person is not as naive as the comments would suggest. They have an obvious agenda that is clear to anyone who cares to take a look.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Kahn, while expressing that fact, included such hostile and outrageous comparisons to Nazis, that diminished his credibility. Anyone who pulls out the Nazis to discuss anything that is not Nazi is immediately diminished IMHO.

 
at 5/15/2008 11:44:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drew, so eloquently stated. Thank you. I've been following this story from many different angles, Dispatch, CSO musicians Web site and (unpublished in the Disptach) press releases, etc. The facts to indeed point to the facts that the Dispatch is one-sided in its representations to the public about this issue and they are indeed not on the side of the musicians.

As far as the supporter of the Dispatch (the free press), I hope that person is not as naive as the comments would suggest. They have an obvious agenda that is clear to anyone who cares to take a look.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Kahn, while expressing that fact, included such hostile and outrageous comparisons to Nazis, that diminished his credibility. Anyone who pulls out the Nazis to discuss anything that is not Nazi is immediately diminished IMHO.

 
at 5/16/2008 09:15:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could someone tell me what the ominous "obvious agenda" of the Columbus Post-Dispatch is in this matter? They don't actively support the stand of labor and suddenly they are the incarnation of the evil empire? Let's not shoot the messenger for delivering the bad economic news and reality which unfortunately effects many people not just musicians on a very personal level. You have an institution that is collapsing economically from its own weight. That seems to the the facts of the matter in a nutshell.

 
at 5/16/2008 09:48:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Musings on a theme: An Obvious Agenda.

CSO Musicians Web site reports they have accepted 1.5 million in salary cuts to rescue the season. Columbus Dispatch reports nothing.

The numerous blogs print the positive letters of support for the orchestra sent to the Dispatch. The Dispatch does not print them.

There is a ground swell of support, organizations forming, to help raise money for the Columbus Symphony. Fundraisers, events, concerts. The Dispatch does not report on these activities.

The Enquirer reports of a successful orchestral industry consultant going to Colubmus to assist with the negotiations and to help repair the damage. No mention of this in the Columbus Dispatch.

What does the Dispatch report today? That the Columbus Arts Council is considering not including the CSO on next year's division of funds because they aren't going to be having a season, which of course contrdicts the announcement on the CSO musicians page that they have given 1.5 million in concessions to save the season and continue.

I could go on because there are so many more examples, but these are indictment enough.

Yes, the "free press" is flourishing in Columbus for the sycophants and the naive.

 
at 5/16/2008 10:10:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, what would you expect from a bunch of Nazi's and Communists? Why don't we have a burning at the Statehouse of that rag so no one else is exposed to the poison of their writings. That way no more minds will be polluted.
I'd suggest you read over all the stuff that appeared in the paper. I have. Positive letters to the editor, coverage of a board member who donated the money (6 figures) needed to finish the season, etc., etc. Let's face it there isn't a lot of "good news" to report on this topic. Oops, I forgot that paper is Satan!

 
at 5/16/2008 05:25:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

...Singing Polly Wolly Doodle All Day!...

Do you work for the Dispatch???

 
at 5/16/2008 07:07:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact I am not.

 
at 5/16/2008 09:27:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you could or I hear there's an opening on the next board of directors...

 
at 5/17/2008 10:21:00 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well it's obvious the person has a pro-Dispatch agenda as s/he totally ignoring the evidence presented in support of the Dispatch's shameless behavior and position it has taken against the musicians of the Columbus Symphony. The Dispatch is getting fairly close to national condemnation now from nearly every quarter. The apologist, such as the poster above, are pi$$ing into the wind.

 
at 5/17/2008 12:19:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also notice how the Dispatch does not offer a forum such as this for its readers and the citizens of Columbus to express their views in a public forum.

 
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