Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's crisis matters for orchestras everywhere | Posted by Tom Service Thursday 18 September 2014 13.09 EDT theguardian.com
But there is yet another complicating factor, which is that the Atlanta Symphony is not an independent outfit, but part of a bigger organisation, the Woodruff Arts Centre, whose CEO Virginia Hepner has said that the ASO’s deficit is unsustainable (proof, surely, that Romanstein has failed to raise enough money for the orchestra’s coffers, despite the previous negotiations). She also offered the observation, when asked whether the city could afford the ASO: “It’s up to anyone to decide what is world-class and what an orchestra should be.” Well no it’s not, actually; the players and conductors probably have a better idea of that than Hepner seems to …
So why does all this matter? Aside from the fact that Atlanta could be on the road to the orchestral hell that the Minnesota Orchestra endured during a 16-month lockout, there is the fact that the ASO’s special performing traditions are threatened (listen to their latest release of Vaughan Williams to see what I mean), that two of the strongest and most artistically profitable conductor-orchestra relationships could dissolve, and that an international audience will miss what the ASO and its chorus have achieved together – to say nothing of what Atlantans will feel about the loss of what is arguably the cultural jewel in their crown. The betrayal of Shaw’s legacy must not be allowed to continue: Atlanta’s lockout is just as serious – if not more so – than Minnesota’s for classical music in the US and beyond.