What to do when classical artists must cancel concerts

Posted on: January 3, 2012

In Wednesday’s (12/28) Wall Street Journal, Joanne Kaufman writes about what happens behind the scenes when classical musicians must call in sick. “On Broadway when the star can’t go on, management simply taps the eager understudy. When classical musicians and singers bow out, an occupational hazard what with all that international travel and all those international viruses, there’s generally no backup waiting in the wings…. ‘We may get an email saying, “Just a heads up. So-and-so singer isn’t feeling well, isn’t canceling yet but fyi…”’ said Chad Smith, vice president of artistic planning for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.…  For orchestras and impresarios, a cancellation can be as much opportunity as nightmare. Early this year, the Boston Symphony had to find a conductor take on two programs that an ailing Sir Colin Davis had been slated to lead. The conductor for the second week was Stéphane Denève, a young French conductor who couldn’t do the Sibelius repertoire that had been planned. ‘But the opportunity to work with him,’ [BSO Artistic Administrator Anthony] Fogg said, ‘outweighed our desire to keep the program in place.’ … “Yoheved (‘Veda’) Kaplinsky, head of the piano department at the Juilliard School, said that students are ‘incessantly made aware’ of the career benefits of being a replacement artist…. ‘A manager called one of my former students and asked her, on eight days’ notice, to replace Leon [Fleisher] at Ravinia. I’m sure she was not the first person called, but she was the first one available with good credentials.’”

Posted January 3, 2012