Thursday, March 7, 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Thursday, February 7, 2013
ASOC Singers and Friends! Ever wonder how the ASO musicians feel about you? You are invited to find out!
The Peachtree String Quartet is performing at Eddie's Attic -- This Tuesday -- on Feb 12 ... featuring music from all the 'Killer Bees' (see flyer below). Of particular interest to the singer-persuasion is a sing-along medley of Beatle songs, dedicated to the group who has always stood -- literally and figuratively -- behind the orchestra: the mighty ASO Chorus.
So brush up on your Rubber Soul and come out for a great night of music.
Sunday, April 14, 2013, 3:00 p.m.
Trinity Presbyterian Church
I really like the 'immersion' aspect of this ensemble's programming and the wonderful surprises it inspires. For this concert the group has chosen to perform the works of two Early Romantics: Schubert Impromtu, D.935 No.3 and Rondeau Brilliant, D. 895 ...and Beethoven “Ghost” Piano Trio, Op. 70, No. 1. The program will also include the distinctly Romantic flavor of Hungarian composer Erno Doynanyi Serenade, Op. 10. Doynanyi flourished in the early 20th c (along with Bartok, his classmate at the Budapest Academy of Music) but his music -- unlike Bartok's -- is more influenced by European classical tradition. Interestingly, Doynanyi taught in the US for ten years and died in 1960, an American citizen.
I found Doynanyi's Piano Quintet No.1 on YouTube for you to listen to while you are marking your calendar for the Georgian Chamber Players concert: April 14, Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3:00 p.m..
Read more about the Georgian Chamber Players on their website: http://georgianchamberplayers.org/
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Anyone with a question, insight, an article to share, an idea to float, or a need for more information before forming an opinion on these and other relevant issues, is enthusiastically welcomed here. The ASOC Singers and Friends Site is where you will find the latest information; more importantly, it's the place where you have the opportunity to engage in frank discussion of these issues with members of the ASOC and with ASO musicians. It's also where to find links to the history of the ASO Chorus, founded over forty years ago by Robert Shaw.
We extend warm greetings to interested readers from all parts of the globe ... each month, thousands of people from every continent find the ASOC Singers and Friends Blog, and continue to add to our readership ... they order t-shirts, too (we are grateful for the world-wide support of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association ... and ship internationally!)
Our mission is to keep the discussion going, exchange information and formulate ideas with the goal of addressing the serious problems facing the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Ours is not just a regional crisis. The same problems are playing out in orchestras around the world: lack of solid financial footing and internal controls, shrinking audiences, shortsighted donor and patronage development, poor management, communication breakdown between management and musicians, missing 'feeder' institutions, limited local government subsidies, outdated venues, unproductive marketing programs... and the latest groan-inducing topic explored in a recent letter to the NY Times, the 'relevance' of classical music today. Every person committed to the symphonic art form -- no matter where you live on the planet -- has a vested interest in learning more about each of these issues, and helping work to become part of the solution.
The ASOC Singers and Friends Blog isn't a message board or a 'preach to the choir' community. It is hoped that you, as an interested reader, will take time to respond to what your music colleagues are posting here. Please feel free to comment, to ask challenging questions and express your own thoughts -- anonymously, if you wish. If you would like to contribute an essay or article, please see the Housekeeping! section for how to obtain authoring privileges.
The 2012 lock-out was a polarizing event, an often contentious subject, but the majority of people who visit this site are friends, colleagues, and supporters of the ASO musicians ... and lovers of classical music concerts. In order to fully communicate the issues which face our respective organizations -- the ASO and ASOC -- and to promote free access to relevant information, we have made this site generally available to anyone who finds us on Facebook, other sites, or Googles us up.
To find out more detail on how everything works here, please visit the Housekeeping! page.
Should you have a general comment regarding what you would like to see on the blog, or if you have a concern you would like to share, please add it to the Feedback page ... or email Sally Kann at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome! Come join the discussion!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Max Hole was made CEO of UMG's Classical Music Division ... which already included Decca Classics label and Deutsch Grammophon and, since 2012, EMI. UMG produces one in three of all recordings sold today.
Who Mr. Hole is, briefly: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/jan/07/universal-promote-max-hole-emi
And here are highlights of his speech to the annual gathering of the Association of British Orchestras, courtesy of Slipped Disc:
Monday, January 21, 2013
Several media outlets tended to flog this bit of news along the same lines as Mr. Bennett; our local Atlanta ones had a 'two-fer': pointing up the lack of diversity in ASO player personnel ... while, at the same time, showing high school parents from a predominantly white area -- within a predominantly African-American city -- up in arms about what used to be called 'reverse discrimination'. The media coverage succeeded in bringing out the worst in everybody, stirring up hostility and anger. But the worst thing was, the skewed publicity and subsequent comments vilifying the ASO organization were directed almost solely at the musicians ... and came at a time when the orchestra, having suffered a lockout, material losses, and damage to its reputation, needed the public's support.
In his article, Bennett says that the choice of inviting other Atlanta high school chorus groups to perform with the ASO was a product of 'hypocrisy and racial double standards', because orchestra personnel is insufficiently diverse. In other words, ASO Management, seeking to add 'racially diverse props' to its image, dis-invited the predominantly white high schools. By doing so, Bennett says, 'the ASO wants to engineer the façade of diversity. They cannot and will not create that façade among their musicians.' Obviously the writer has some high feeling about this subject, but he didn't do his homework ...
Just to be clear ... the ASO's core mission dates from 1998:
We unite in our desire to serve and to expand our audience through innovative programming, broader venues and increased educational opportunities while balancing artistic growth with financial soundness. We share a heritage of passion for the music. We embrace our responsibility to be a vigorous part of the cultural fabric of our community and to strive to reach national and international audiences.
ASO Management administers a nationally renowned symphony orchestra, a public institution in one of the country's most racially diverse cities. Trying to make a cloak of 'racial diversity' out of whole cloth was looking to get busted. Seeming to lack any context beyond needing a 'chorus featuring more African-American kids', ASO Management's actions generated more suspicion in the Atlanta community and beyond. It would have made better sense for management to explore and advance new cooperative programs with Atlanta educational, cultural and arts groups; there are always exciting, forward-looking developments in this community. Unfortunately, ASO Management decided to co-opt an already successful in-house program in order to publicly 'fix' the perception of racial diversity (or lack thereof) within the organization. At best, the elicited statements from ASO Management, as reported by Mr. Bennett, come across as spin ... at worst, they sound patronizing ... and, most damaging, they do nothing to address the depth of ASO's commitment to music education in this city.
Bennett acknowledges -- in his last paragraph -- a 'positive outcome'; the orchestra bypassed 'ASO management to hold a school fundraiser with the Walton and Lassiter high schools.' ASO musicians disregarded their own embarrassment and dismay, the unkind remarks from public and press, as well as the political aims of their management, in order to do the right thing ... demonstrating to students at Walton and Lassiter how real and strong their connection is to young musicians.
But ultimately, Bennett appears to have missed an important point about that 'connection'. And he missed it because he and others seem to have bought into the easy assumption that the classical symphonic art form has little to offer this community unless it mirrors the racially diverse city within which it exists. This 'easy assumption' fails to take into account that the real connection between Atlanta and its orchestra has always been made not through corporate policies or marketing schemes, but through the tireless efforts of the musicians, who have been performing, coaching, teaching, mentoring, and holding master classes in Atlanta schools and ensembles for almost four decades.
In my opinion, the city of Atlanta has no finer example of passion, discipline and commitment ... unless you also count teachers all over the city, many of whom plan their yearly curricula around the ASO. What Mr. Bennett calls an 'absolute absurdity' -- the reallocation of 'musical tastes among (diverse) groups' -- I call the ASO's 'core mission statement', because the importance of great classical symphonic repertoire ... like that of great literature and great art ... lies in its ability to enrich and deepen human experience.
Artistically, too, the ASO's programming has always been richly diverse, cross-cultural, often outside the box ... but I realize it's not the same thing to Mr. Bennett, who only counted the number of African-American heads in the orchestra to make his argument.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Wanted! -- Young and single and free!
Experienced in (Revenue Management)
But we'll accept a young trainee!"
with apologies to Honey Cone ... WAC has a job opening! Haven't seen anything on Craig's List ...
So what are you waiting for? All those ingredients are here, for two more nights only, Get your (discounted for ASOC) ticket and go!
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Robert Birman -- CEO of Louisville Orchestra and author of the oft-quoted quip -- 'the audience won't notice a difference' if the number of musicians is cut -- says that in February, he is stepping down. A general press release applauds his success, and notes how sad the musicians are to see him go.
However ... outside the Birman Universe, things are a bit different. One comment posted in a Slipped Disc article:
"Mr Birman’s actions as CEO merit the negative cyberspace attention he’s received. He locked out the orchestra and took away the musicians’ health insurance. He advertised for the locked-out musicians’ jobs on Craigslist in the same section you might search for day laborers or office temp workers. He told the press he didn’t think his audience would notice the difference between a 71-member orchestra and a 55-member orchestra. He’s put out one of the dullest, most insulting seasons in recent memory. Half of their opening-night gala concert was spent backing up a Vegas act. If his goal was to transform an orchestra with a proud, innovative tradition into a glorified pops orchestra, I regret that he succeeded."
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Sunday, January 6, 2013
We welcome your efforts to repair the bridges, so carefully built over the last 16 years, that were so quickly and severely damaged this year. There is much to be done both within the ASO and the broader Woodruff Arts Center organization. The Atlanta symphony Orchestra is this institution’s greatest asset and not the great liability we have been portrayed to be. We all must be diligent and demand accountability from every area of those entrusted to keep our Symphony fiscally healthy. The startling revelation of the embezzlement of nearly $1.5 million from the WAC pains and angers us all – but especially the musicians, only weeks after making enormous and unprecedented concessions in negotiations. Exacerbating the situation, the WAC brushed off that figure as a minimal fraction, though so much less than that – trumpeted as insuperably huge by the same WAC – would have made a decent and humane musicians’ settlement possible.
The musicians were told at the bargaining table as well as privately by Stanley and other senior management that large donations would be forthcoming as long as the musicians accepted the tremendous concessions demanded of us. Millions of dollars were waiting in the wings but the musicians had to go first. These promises worked in part to induce us to agree to a plainly unacceptable contract. We are now almost in the middle of December and have heard no news until this meeting today about any major gift of any kind. The hope is that what we were told were not just empty promises but words backed up with concrete fact. We are deeply troubled by the lack of development in this critical area of the ASO. It is heartening to hear of new monies coming in thanks to the Delta Initiative. I assure you the musicians will be the loudest to applaud any and all successes in this area.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Exactly what sort of audience do they think this will attract and what expectations would that audience have? And where does the knife come in? Wasn't it the sultan that was going to kill Scheherazade until she started telling the 1,001 stories?
Let's hope no one shows up thinking it's the ballet version...
Seriously, it's an unfortunate choice from another perspective - given the recent and on-going debates about violence in our society and the means that create it - that the organization opted for an extremely literal rendering to plug the concert. Using sex to market classical music is increasingly considered de rigeur - OK, fine. But they could have stopped there. And saved the money on the knife.
"... I also think that as we continue to agitate for more and better information about how this whole debacle went down, we will find that the bigger problem lies with those that hold S.R. under their thumb. It looks to me like this whole WAC umbrella structure needs to be scrutinized under a very high-powered microscope. Anyone know a good investigative reporter?"
The next month, as was reported by the AJC, the embezzler of $1.5 million left WAC ... in November the fraud was discovered and the embezzler confessed.
In December 21, 2012, the AJC attempted to update its story, and got nowhere.
I scrolled through the comments section on the Dec. 21 story to find this one:
Let's look at their latest Form 990. It was prepared by Sallie P Lawrence, who claims to be a paid preparer, but she lists her address and firm as the Woodruff Arts Center (WAC) itself. She does not identify herself as a CPA nor does she list her PTIN number. WAC paid $228,250 for accounting services during the year. The Form 990 is 136 pages, with the first 46 being readable, and the last 90 pages being the Schedule O printed one line per page (unreadable). For expenses, the third largest is simply "Other" for $11.5 million. The two highest paid employees made $744k and $581k. If WAC had hired a CPA firm to conduct an audit and prepare the taxes, rather than doing the taxes with an employee, the CPA firm likely would have confirmed the invoices from the largest vendors, and discovered that there was no one available at the fraudster to confirm. The fraud should have been detected. But perhaps the fraud is larger, and involves the $11.5m Other as well as the outsized salaries (outsized for an organization in the red).
And this one:
"Woodruff would have been better advised to get the prosecution arranged before airing their dirty laundry in public and broadcasting that they aren't responsible stewards of their patron's contributions. I wonder why they went to the US Attorney rather than the Fulton County District Attorney. Perhaps they thought they could get special treatment. Relevant charges under Georgia Law are theft by taking and forgery in the 1st degree. I will think again before ever contributing to the Woodruff or any of their organizations."
So ... if I were going to perpetrate a successful fraud, I'd need to find another negligent arts institution with a big sloppy budget, overpaid management, which doesn't contract an outside accounting firm. Is there another one?
Thursday, January 3, 2013
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act 'contains provisions that exempt nonprofit organizations from being subject to the accounting requirements due mostly to the unreasonable burden it would place on smaller and mid size budget organizations.'
Frankly ... I'm not sure WAC's $100 million-plus operational budget puts the organization in either 'small' or mid-sized' category. What would my feeling be if I were a substantial contributor to that $100 million?
See the entire Adapistration article here:
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
For those who don't have that interest, I invite you at least to consider this brief extract from his post:
"According to the National Assembly of Arts Agencies, government funding for the arts this year in the Peach State was just $574,268, a mere 6 cents per resident."
And regarding the St Paul Chamber Orchestra ...