Louisville managemen set to make two more bad decisions

According to WFPL, the management of the Louisville Orchestra has two more chances to screw things up this week:

After months of talks with no agreement, Mayor Greg Fischer joined contract negotiations with the management and musicians. Last week, he announced that an anonymous donor had come forward to pay for a nationally-recognized consultant to work with mediators. The mayor is encouraging both sides to welcome the help.

Orchestra CEO Robert Birman says the management will decide this week whether to accept the offer. The musicians had previously sought to bring in an outside expert, but Birman says it didn’t work out.

“Cost was a consideration,” he says. “Other considerations were the fact that we have a lot of expertise at the table already between the musicians, the board and the staff. And we’ve had many people from all over this country with extensive knowledge of the industry that have already inserted themselves in the process.”

The chair of the musicians committee welcomed the donation.

The words “inserted themselves into the process” is the “tell” here. It sure doesn’t sound that the LO management is anxious to accept the offer of further “insertions.” But Birman might consider asking himself why so many people with “extensive knowledge of the industry” are so anxious to interfere with his management of the orchestra. Could it be that those knowledgeable people believe he’s screwing up?

Orchestra management will also decide this week whether more concerts need to be called off. Performances for this month and next month were canceled due to the lack of a contract, and a 60-day notice must be given for further cancellations.

No explanation of just why a “60-day notice must be given for further cancellations.” The number is suspiciously identical to the period required for notification of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for expiration of a labor agreement – but the whole point of the current dispute is that there’s no labor agreement. And, given that they cancelled their September concerts a week ago, it seems that the 60-day requirement that management is referring to is… flexible. 60 days for thee but not for me, perhaps?

They sure do seem in a hurry to cancel concerts. Too bad that the same urgency is not felt about getting the orchestra back on stage.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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