Baltimore Symphony’s artistic successes, financial woes

Posted on: July 3, 2019

“When violent unrest spread through the streets of Baltimore in 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray … the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra sent a … message: Its musicians gathered on the sidewalk in front of their concert hall to perform Handel, Bach and Beethoven to a crowd of hundreds seeking solace,” writes Michael Cooper in Tuesday’s (7/2) New York Times. “The musicians are now back on that same stretch of sidewalk—walking a picket line. On June 17, the orchestra’s management, citing fiscal pressures, locked the players out without pay to try to pressure them to agree to a contract guaranteeing fewer weeks of work…. The showdown raises all too familiar questions about how venerable ensembles will survive, let alone thrive, in an era when classical music faces stiff financial headwinds…. The Baltimore Symphony has managed to punch above its weight in recent years.… But management … said that the orchestra faced such a cash crunch in May that it had to borrow $2.3 million from its endowment … Jesse Rosen, the president of the League of American Orchestras, said that the trouble in Baltimore was especially dispiriting given how [artistically] forward-looking the ensemble has been … ‘They’ve really been at the forefront.’ ”

Posted July 3, 2019

In photo: Music Director Marin Alsop leads members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a free April 2015 concert outside Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, after the death of Freddie Gray. Photo by Amy Davis