As I find myself musing over the strange circumstances of the MO/SPCO in the Twin Cities, puzzled by the circular logic proponents of both sides seem to be following, I can’t help but wonder what is missing? I alluded to this in an earlier post on the Slipped Disc blog, asking if there seemed to be some sort of hidden agenda in place in the workings of the MO stalemate. Although I stated that I hoped I was mistaken, one response pretty much challenged me to ‘put up or shut up.’ So I decided to think things through some more.
I devised a worse-case scenario for a hidden agenda. In this fictitious situation Management and the Board would be working in collusion with the director to humble the players and force them to take pay cuts while retaining their much bigger salaries. In this scenario the conductor would step aside, as tradition has them do, and wait for Management and a lockout to break the backs of the players. In the case of the MO, one previous conductor said that this was a good orchestra for players ‘on the way up or on the way down.’ With the current roster, and stipulating that there is any merit in the statement, some of them, with all due respect, have managed to do both. So, in a dog-eat-dog business-world type of scenario, the objective would be to cull the orchestra of all the spoiled and ungrateful older players who would, when pressed, feel they had no alternative but to stage a revolt. By doing so, campaigning, even performing, and generally creating a rucus trying to conjure up sympathy for the players, it would be very easy for Management to compile a list of names of those who would be given buyouts if and when they were to return.
However, in the actual case of the MO, the director took an unprecedented step and wrote a letter to the Board and Musicians on behalf of the players, expressing his personal distress at watching ten years of his and their hard work going up in smoke. Was this done in collusion with Management? Unlikely, as their response has been a sort of verbal ‘gulp’ and then an attempt to spin the letter in their favor.
So everything remains at a stalemate, for the moment anyhow. We all know this will have an ending that will be spun as ‘happy’, whether it actually is or not. There is a newly-renovated hall to fill later in the year, for one thing. But in the meantime, in this haitus between times of being told what to think about the MO (as opposed to actually listening for ourselves), might we not ask if there are major changes in the music environment, going far beyond what we are currently experiencing in the TC? In short, are there elephants in the room?