August 1, 2002

WORKER ESSENTIALITY AND THE TIMES :

Check out these two articles from today's New York Times :
Mozart Players Inching Farther Out on a Limb (ANTHONY TOMMASINI, August 1, 2002, NY Times)
What's most perplexing about the strike by the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, called just hours before the four-week event was to begin on Monday evening, is that the musicians may be overestimating their essentialness.

New York has to have the New York Philharmonic. The Metropolitan Opera must maintain a top-notch orchestra. But there are other ways for Lincoln Center to present a summer festival of orchestra and chamber music programs, even one that mostly hews to the Mostly Mozart format, without supporting a resident orchestra. [...]

By its action the union is inviting Lincoln Center to devise a festival for next summer without a resident orchestra. It's hard to imagine a public outcry from New Yorkers to maintain the status quo.

Recently in Risor, Norway, I spoke with members of the lively Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, scheduled to make its Mostly Mozart debut in 2003, with the remarkable Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes as soloist. Those musicians can hardly wait to play the festival next summer. That their performance will generate excitement is a sure bet. It will set a high standard for the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra to match.

Asked if the strike makes it more likely that Lincoln Center will simply turn the festival into a series of performances by visiting ensembles and orchestras, Mr. Moriarty said, "There's no arguing with that point."

Right now, with no overtures from the musicians union and Lincoln Center's firm stand, it's entirely possible that the resident orchestra will not survive.

It's hard to see what the union expected to gain by this action. Officially, talks are not dead. Ms. Moss and her administrative colleagues say they are deeply saddened by the disservice to audiences. But judging from the speed with which they canceled this summer's concerts by the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, they do not seem to be all that upset by the prospect of losing the ensemble.


Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2002 6:59 PM
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