The ASO is currently in a lock-out situation that is beginning to get nation-wide attention from music lovers and professionals alike, and it's truly heart breaking to see such fine music being held captive by people who clearly care more about their pockets than the continuation of a very important art form. Last week I was asked by the concert master of the Knoxville Symphony to draft a letter of solidarity, and this is what I came up with:
"The arts are not for the privileged few, but for the many. Their place is not on the periphery of daily life, but at its center. They should function not merely as another form of entertainment but, rather, should contribute significantly to our well being and happiness." –John D. Rockefeller
To the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra:
It is a universal fact that music is an integral part of our existence as a human race. Whether we like hearing the crisp, classical sounds of composers like Mozart and Haydn, or prefer the pieces by composers still finding their voices today, the sounds of symphonic ensembles must continue to resound not only for us, but for the generations to come, so that they may see the power it holds for our American culture. Music and the arts have been the source of great strength, great change, and great hope for people of all walks of life from every part of the globe, and it is our obligation to ensure this continuation here in the south.
When many people listen to symphonic music, they think of the large orchestras of Europe and try to imagine how people living in London, Berlin, or Vienna could be so lucky to have such amazing music right in their back yards. What they may fail to realize, however, is that world class music exists right here for all to enjoy. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has been a beacon of excellence and an example of true artistry to students and professionals alike for nearly 70 years, and this rich musical tradition is facing opposition. It goes without saying that we must do everything we can to uphold and support the effort toward saving the ASO, and we, the members of the Knoxville Symphony, show our support and stand firm in the efforts toward restoring what has been one of the most important mediums of classical music not only in Georgia, but the country, for decades. As an orchestra, we urge not only other musicians and afficianados, but anyone interested in the continuation of one of the art forms that transcend daily life, to stand with you and support not just your cause, but the cause.
Your colleagues of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
Writing for Rainbow Rumpus and Edugaytion has taught me how to make my words nice and pretty, but sometimes I wish I could just be real. Sometimes I wish I could sit here and name all the haters I've dealt with whose goal is to catch me in a lie, or chastise me for something I've done with pure intentions. Sometimes I wish I could call out the folks who have sent e-mails and messages in regards to what I'm doing that they find offensive, and threatening my livelihood in the process. I sometimes even wish I could give a wake up call to these people sitting pretty in their cubicles, deciding the fate of me and my music while they collect their pay check off of what musicians are providing to audiences. I don't do those things, though, because it's a very dangerous game. As Blair Tindall mentions in her notorious book, "Mozart in the Jungle", "...our superiors - counting on the bewildered outsiders not to interfere - [can] twist creative issues to control us. Musicality [is] subjective, and a lack of cooperation...could be described as bad intonation, boring phrasing, or even weak talent to an administrator...".
I think it's time we stop lying down and taking it from people who could never do what we do as musicians. The ASO is amongst the best orchestras in this country, and their management has shown us just how much we should blindly trust those people in the background. Click here to find out how you can help the ASO stand up against the ugly underbelly of this industry, and break the trend of musicians having to accept the final word from a suit and tie.