-A recent classical music summit in Seattle yielded diverse opinions, but the rosy outlook for classical music on the internet and growth of paid downloads may be cause for cautious optimism.
-An article by John Pitcher in the Omaha World-Herald looks at the way Omaha-area musicians and educators are connecting with the classical world at large through the internet in ways that never would have been possible only a few years ago.
-From a story in the Columbus Dispatch, the beleaguered Columbus symphony orchestra is struggling to stay afloat, and it looks like some of the donations may come with a union-busting condition:
Wary after half a dozen bail- outs in the past two decades, some corporate donors are expected to pledge money only if the musicians sign a contract for the 2008-09 season and endorse a board-proposed restructuring plan.
The proposal -- designed to pare about $2.5 million from the budget for next season -- would cut from 53 to 31 the number of full-time musicians (with additional part-time musicians filling the gaps onstage) and reduce the season from 46 weeks to 34.
Making the musicians of the Columbus Symphony pay for the restructuring will simply result in a lower quality of product and exodus of the musicians to more lucrative musical centers, which means that the big losers may be the residents of Columbus.
Update: You can read more about the Columbus situation on Adaptistration, daily observations and Inside the Classics.
-The restructuring plan for the Shreveport Symphony is even more draconian: convert the entire orchestra to a paid-per-service model and get rid of their health plan, thus giving current salaried players (23 of 53 players) a 75% cut in wages. According to the Shreveport Times, the difference for salaried players would be from the current average of $12,683 to a projected average salary of $3,123. You might be horrified, but according to board president Margaret Elrod,
Musicians will actually receive a 25 percent increase in hourly rates over three years with the musicians having more time to perform at other venues.
Thanks to Ms. Elrod for pointing out that a reduction in pay of $9560 is actually a 25 percent increase over three years. I wouldn't have known.
So it looks like a healthy market for downloads, accessibility, and audience growth is balanced by downward pressure for many of those that do the actual work creating the musical product that is becoming so popular.
Good times or bad times?