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Chautauqua Music Festival

Marsha and I just returned from my debut at the Chautauqua Music Festival. By the way, it’s pronounced with an “sh” sound–like Shautauqua! This is a place one has to experience.  On 500 acres of Lake Chautauqua waterfront, it is a community of 1200 residences with a mix of styles going back to the Victorian period, the post Civil War Atheneum Hotel (which has a motto prominently displayed in the grand lobby “every man has the right to be all he can be and to know what he can know), a 5000 seat covered amphiththeater with wonderful acoustics, a symphony orchestra, ballet company, opera company, theater company, a full array of lectures, art classes, sailing, a daily paper with kids hawking it on the town common, etc., etc. The season is 9 weeks in the summer and the place is shut down in the winter. The orchestra is terrific and they have to be since they play two programs a week, each with either one or two rehearsals. Mine had one in the afternoon of the performance and the players were so competent and generous in spirit that we put on a great show. Personally, I loved the pressure of producing a high standard with a minimum of rehearsing. The name of the game for all concerned is “be good NOW!” In a way, it felt similar to recording with a group that is sight reading at the session. I’ve done a fair bit of that type and I always enjoyed the artistic pressure and found that it brought out the best in everyone. Anyway, Bravo to Marty Merkey, its’s V.P. and Director of Programming, the musicians and all those responsible for keeping the vision of the founding fathers alive since the 1870s!

Fun in New Hampshire

Last week my wife, Marsha and I reconnected with the New Hampshire Music Festival where I am Conductor Laureate. It was so great to make music again with my friends in the orchestra. As always, they played beautifully and it seemed like it was just yesterday when we last were together. Jay Buckley, the Festival’s treasurer was away on a trip to Iceland and he kindly made his lovely home on Lake Winona available to us. We had a wonderful time and it was my first chance to conduct Ginestera’s Variaciones Concertantes and De Falla’s El Amor Brujo, so the week had a nice balance of peaceful relaxation at the lake and new musical discovery. Bravo to our New Hampshire friends!!

Orchestra Contract Disputes

There is an interesting angle on orchestra contract disputes at the top level. Currently there is one raging in San Francisco where the players insist that they be compensated as well as their peers in Los Angeles. Here it is: it is important when putting forth a goal to be accomplished that you keep your attention directed on the exterior environment. All goals have opponents and they should be selected from outside your own organization. The SF players want to compete (play a game against) the L..A. Phil. As long as they are permitted to play that game they will be relatively content with their home circumstances and conditions. But the minute they are not permitted to compete with the outside world in their own estimation, they will start to select targets/opponents/enemies from within their own ranks–managers, Board members, Music Director, even fellow musicians. It is true that there are differences in cost of living, demographics and philanthropic traditions from city to city and these have to be factored in but the desire to be competitive is a healthy thing and whatever is done to harmonize all this must include an understanding of this dynamic: YOU MUST KEEP YOUR ATTENTION AS AN ORGANIZATION DIRECTED OUTWARD, NOT INWARD. YOUR OPPONENTS MUST NOT BE SELECTED FROM WITHIN YOUR OWN RANKS.

Paul Polivnick
Contact Paul at 727-298-8182

Contact Paul at 727-298-8182

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