Swed: In tough economy, put music first, and solutions can be found

Posted on: October 10, 2013

In Wednesday’s (10/9) Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed reports on positive developments at the Los Angeles Philharmonic—it “just concluded its usual no-drama contract negotiations and celebrated the 10th anniversary of Walt Disney Concert Hall in high style”—while examining New York City Opera’s recent bankruptcy filing, the Minnesota Orchestra’s year-long lockout, and the shuttering of Carnegie Hall on opening night due to a brief strike by stagehands. Citing upbeat news at the city’s classical-music institutions, Swed asks, “Does all this mean that L.A. is in some kind of uncanny classical music bubble? … No, there is no bubble. And, no, classical music is not in crisis. L.A’s supposed good luck was to get a new concert hall that became a draw all by itself. Ironically, halls appear, on the surface, to have been behind the bad news last week.… A major bone of contention for the musicians in Minnesota was that the orchestra’s management raised $47 million to renovate Orchestra Hall while insisting that musician take significant pay cuts.…The deeper issue is that of vision and commitment.… Minnesota’s mission has come across as confused, and that includes [Music Director Osmo] Vänskä’s ultimatum that he would resign if the orchestra wasn’t back in business in time for him to properly rehearse the orchestra for its Carnegie dates and for upcoming recording sessions.… Overhead, and not just at Carnegie, is a problem. But the music isn’t. Put music first, and solutions can be found. City Opera didn’t, I believe, have to die. Neither does the Minnesota Orchestra.”

Posted October 10, 2013