Thursday, September 16, 2004

Second Harp

Here's an interesting article on the contracts of musicians in top symphonies, their perks, etc. Check this out:
Management promises that its proposals would never harm the orchestra's artistic level.

"We want to preserve the jewel of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Orchestra," said Mr. Albertini, a public relations executive hired to present the orchestra's case. The players have their own outside public-relations man.

But John Koen, a cellist and the chairman of the players' committee, says that reducing full-time positions - even though the same number of musicians would always be onstage through the use of substitutes - could undermine the orchestra's fabled artistic tradition.

For example, he said, one position singled out is the full-time second harpist. The "Philadelphia sound" is partly based on decades of playing large French symphonic works, which often require two harps. Eliminating that job would run counter to the tradition, he said.

I'd like to see how many musicians on stage could tell the difference in the orchestra's sound between using a full-time second harpist and a substitute (in those relatively rare cases where two harps are needed), let alone audience members. I know the union is just trying to keep as many benefits and positions as possible, but this claim is so ridiculous that it's just funny.

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