Baltimore Symphony Musicians Ask Orchestra Management to Hold Music-Director Selection Until Fall

Classic Arts News   Baltimore Symphony Musicians Ask Orchestra Management to Hold Music-Director Selection Until Fall
The musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra have publicly asked the orchestra's board of directors to delay its decision to name a new music director, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The orchestra's search committee is scheduled to make a recommendation to the board at a meeting tomorrow; early reports hold that the committee will recommend hiring conductor Marin Alsop as the BSO's music director, replacing Yuri Temirkanov, who will step down at the end of the 2005-06 season.

The musicians' statement, released yesterday, said that "approximately 90 percent of the orchestra musicians believe that ending the search process now, before we are sure the best candidate has been found, would be a disservice to the patrons of the BSO and all music lovers in Maryland."

The statement asks the orchestra to delay their decision until Thanksgiving in order to "allow the orchestra to work with and consider several additional conductors who are scheduled to appear this fall."

This is the second statement issued by the orchestra's musicians; the first, on July 15, criticized Alsop's reported appointment as "premature." Jane Marvine, head of the BSO players committee, read a statement that said, "The musicians are very troubled by the fact that board members will be asked to make a crucial decision without having a reasonable opportunity to investigate and consider the issues being raised by the musicians [on the search committee]."

Neither of the musicians' statements mentioned Alsop, but focused on what they felt was the faulty process by which she was chosen.

The Sun could not reach Alsop—principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony in England, former music director of the Colorado Symphony, and perhaps the most high-profile female conductor in the world—for comment.

Originally, the orchestra had announced that the music-director search would last through the 2005-06 season, but the deadline was moved up to July by board officers. Karla Swanson, the BSO's general manager, said that "moving ahead quickly in making a decision is more desirable, given the other challenges the orchestra faces."

Drew McManus, on his blog Adaptistration, pointed out that the orchestra's recent negotiations with its musicians produced a new contract with language promising the musicians a significant voice in selecting conductors and hiring new orchestra members. (This good-faith agreement came with considerable compromises on the musicians' side—including pay cuts.) McManus writes, "Having a strong voice and an appreciable vote. . . in the music-director selection process would be a critical component in reaching these contractual obligations."

BSO president James Glicker, however, felt that Alsop was the right choice, regardless of the musicians' concerns about the selection process. "The qualities we are seeking," he said, "are very well met by Marin in many, many respetcts. . . She and I are convinced that she has the personality to lead the orchestra, and for them to be enthusiastic about her leadership."

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