Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians will be locked out of the band’s Meyerhoff Symphony Hall facilities starting Monday.
I worked in the artistic administration department of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for 20 years booking the soloists and guest conductors. I have also worked for the Minnesota Orchestra, the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, the Cape Cod Symphony and the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia (“Detroit Symphony member: Learn from us; BSO can't just cut season,” June 24.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is not just 83 musicians who get together every week to rehearse and play. Most of them have worked together for decades and under great music directors with distinctively different gifts. They know how to accompany a soloist, how to play like one instrument and are able to anticipate what a conductor is going to request.
This special nature of the BSO may not be widely known here, but the BSO is internationally recognized by the soloists and guest conductors who come here and are thrilled at the ease and joy of making music with the BSO in our great concert halls.
While I can't give any names, there are soloists who will not perform concertos by Mozart and Beethoven with some orchestras of much greater renown (and budget) but love to perform these with the BSO. This is a compliment of the highest order that very few people may be aware of. It requires an orchestra that is extraordinarily highly skilled and can adapt instantly to meet the special wishes of the soloists and conductors.
While not granting the money needed to keep the BSO working over the summer may seem fiscally prudent, players are beginning to look for positions elsewhere. Besides the cost of holding auditions, this will end up costing more money in the long run, including the loss of the special qualities that are the result of decades of working together. Baltimore will lose great musicians, great families, great teachers and also one of the major cultural attractions that draws top companies, employers and employees to our city.
We know there is much work that needs to be done to put the BSO in shape financially. All of this is possible and will take far less time and toll than the penny-wise and pound foolish action that allowing the orchestra to be locked out this summer would take. The BSO was working in good faith without a contract and we hope, with the help of Gov. Hogan and others, the trust that had been built can be saved.