Orchestra Digest: July 3

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This week: Good news in Winnipeg; analysis of the Steinway deal; symphonic toothpicks in Ottawa; and Eddins on diversity. Here are stories we're following...

Accentuating the Positive 

  • The Winnipeg Symphony posted its sixth consecutive surplus in 2012-13, the Winnipeg Free Press reports. The positive financials benefitted from a 10 percent increase in ticket revenue, and an artistically successful season. 
  • "We are turning a corner," new Jacksonville Symphony board chair Martin Connor told the Florida Times-Union. Newly approved changes reduce the board's size, and aim to make members more engaged. Musicians signed an agreement this April, following long and contentious negotiations.
  • The Omaha Symphony generated $45 million in economic activity over the past five years, WOWT reports. Produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bureau of Business Research, the economic impact study accompanied strong attendance and financial numbers announced by the Omaha Symphony this week.  
  • Responding to criticism in London's city council, Orchestra London board chair Joe O'Neill promised "an aggressive initiative (focused) on increasing corporate revenue", the London Free Press reports.
  • On Monday, Steinway Musical Instruments announced it had been acquired by Kohlberg & Company, a private equity firm, the New York Times reports. The $438 million deal fuelled speculation about the brand's future, prompting a post on the WQXR blog.
  • Louisville Orchestra musicians approved a new, 3-year agreement through May 2016, ICSOM's Secretary reports. The agreement holds in place the season length, orchestra size, and salary set in a one-year bridge agreement that ended a lengthy labour dispute in 2011-12. 
  • The Nashville Symphony narrowly avoided the foreclosure of the Schermerhorn Center, reaching an undisclosed agreement with bankers on June 24, the Tennessean reports. Board treasurer Kevin Crumbo said that more details of the arrangement would be released once musician negotiations are concluded. 
People in the news
  • Formerly Manitoba Premier and currently Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Gary Doer is now the honorary chair of the Winnipeg Symphony's Carnegie Hall campaign committee, the Winnipeg Free Press reports. The WSO is gearing up to perform in the final Spring for Music on May 8, 2014. 
  • New Jersey Symphony acting principal oboist James Roe will become the orchestra's President and CEO, the Star-Ledger reports. NJSO interim president Susan Stucker will work alongside Roe as Chief Operating Officer. 
  • "I just adore talent. I love it," says Pinchas Zukerman, talking about his work at the National Arts Centre Orchestra Summer Institute with the Toronto Star. He also discusses his achievements and unfulfilled goals as music director of NACO.
Trends and commentary
  • The New York Daily News visited disadvantaged kids in Alabama learning string instruments thanks to the Montgomery Music Project. Now in its third year, the program founded by cellist Laura Usiskin strives to fill a gap left by disappearing arts programs in public schools. 
  • For his convocation speech at the Aspen Music Festival, President and CEO Alan Fletcher addressed the future of the orchestral musician's profession. "We need to end the adversarial tone of confrontation among managements, musicians, boards - before it tears our system apart." Fletcher cites the recent Pittsburgh Symphony agreement as an example of musicians, board, and administration working in harmony. 
  • And the National Arts Centre Orchestra has a new distinction: the world's first orchestra with its own toothpick replica, as CBC reports. It took 3 years and 12,500 toothpicks for Ottawa artist Go Sato to create the toothpick model of NACO's 61 musicians. 
Compiled by OCSM President Matt Heller. Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA. Visit OCSM online at: http://ocsm-omosc.org/index.php
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