As a member of last year’s Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Academy, I’ve been very distressed by the lockout situation involving the BSO musicians and management (“Maryland Gov. Hogan won't release funds for BSO, school construction, Baltimore youth jobs,” July 3). Many people will see this as an all too familiar struggle between management and union membership. Companies use managerial staff to back up services so that customers aren’t severely affected by the lockout or strike. Arts organizations such as the BSO can’t do that.
In the case of the BSO it takes 83 highly skilled individuals to produce the orchestra’s “product,” something that management can’t reproduce on their own. So what happens? The community, city and state lose out on what can’t be made up for — a world class symphony orchestra devoted to performing symphonic music at the highest level.
Subscription concert series are what the general public sees. However, this is only one aspect of an orchestra’s mission. The other is community educational outreach. Most orchestral organizations depend on various community projects to educate and expose the public to what they have to offer. These projects all involve the musicians’ willingness to share their time and talents, all for the purpose of improving people’s appreciation of music and what it can do to improve their lives.
The BSO’s Academy program is one of those large outreach endeavors. It’s designed as a performance and learning experience for adult amateur musicians. The purpose is to be able to play, rehearse and perform a full concert side-by- side with members of the BSO. This is a unique program that is only possible because of the willingness of the BSO musicians to work with amateurs and share the experience in the BSO’s Meyerhof Hall.
Personally, I’m a trumpet player who performs in several community orchestras in the Greater Boston area and was amazed to find a program like the academy that was run by a major symphony orchestra. The key that makes it all work is the cooperation of the BSO membership. My week spent working alongside them was life-enhancing and truly a thrill. We were all treated like members of the “family,” and by working together we pulled off a truly inspired concert. This year was to be the 10th anniversary of the program. It was canceled because of the summer lockout of the orchestra.
Alumni from across the country and new members of the program will have to miss out on this unique opportunity. Many people are losing out. Not just the musicians who deserve our respect and admiration for what they do, but also everyone else who rely on having a truly wonderful symphony orchestra right in their own backyard that brings joy and inspiration to everyone’s lives.