Arts French Horns and Razor Blades
posted by December 17 at 11:05 AMon
If you’re looking for a comprehensive primer on the internal battles that have been screwing up the Seattle Symphony for the past few years, start here, in the Sunday NYT.
There isn’t much new information, but the article covers all the bad bits, including Schwarz purported incompetence and cronyism, including rigging his friend John Cerminaro, a French horn player, into the orchestra:
Normally orchestral openings are subject to rigorous blind auditions, but Mr. Cerminaro was invited to substitute for a player on leave. He eventually auditioned for a permanent job, but an orchestra committee rejected him by a vote of 9 to 1. Mr. Schwarz appointed him anyway. A number of players continued to oppose Mr. Cerminaro; he and Mr. Schwarz attribute that to jealousy or personality conflicts. “Success is the only unpardonable sin with these people,” Mr. Cerminaro said in an interview.
(That quote’s not going to make Cerminaro any friends.)
And it doesn’t neglect the anti-Schwarz revolts at his other conducting jobs:
Mr. Schwarz also faced trouble elsewhere. Friction built at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in England, where he had become principal conductor in 2001. Malcolm Stewart, the orchestra’s concertmaster of 24 years, quit in 2003. And in 2004, 40 of the 65 musicians cast an anti-Schwarz vote.
So how does he survive? Rich people like him. He’s a charmer, a money-magnet, the man who built Benaroya Hall. Too bad his musicians don’t think much of his conducting.