HuffPo blog response: focus on League ignores real problems orchestras face

Posted on: October 24, 2012

A Huffington Post blog Monday (10/22) by cellist and author David Beem lamented the financial struggles of orchestras and largely blamed the League of American Orchestras’ leadership for them. In a lengthy response, League board member, Milwaukee Symphony Principal Violist, and president of the Milwaukee chapter of the American Federation of Musicians Robert Levine wrote, “The League does not tell orchestra managements how to bargain or what to bargain for. Not only would it be constrained by anti-trust law from doing so, but the League has never, in the past, been able to prescribe specific policies to the field with any success. … For Mr. Beem to selectively misquote Jesse Rosen, League CEO, is simply dishonest. Yes, Rosen said that ‘the conversation needs to move up and out of how much money are we going to pay people.’ Why is Mr. Beem so reluctant to let readers know that the rest of Rosen’s sentence was ‘to the challenge of how the whole field becomes part of American life in the 21st century?’ … Orchestras are increasingly viewed as entertainment for the 1% and not as a fundamental part of our social and cultural infrastructure. If we don’t change that perception, many, if not most, American orchestras will not survive the next fifty years. … By looking for a stake to drive through a mythical vampiric League, Mr. Breem does a disservice to those he claims to support by encouraging them to ignore the real, and very serious, problems that orchestras face in the future.”

Posted October 24, 2012