When CSO President Ted Legasy mounted the Gaillard’s stage prior to the Charleston Symphony’s Masterworks concert earlier this evening, you could almost sense the crowd holding its collective breath … he’s been mostly the bearer of bad tidings as of late. But tonight’s announcement was more like a classic “good news/bad news” scenario.
The blessed good news is that the CSO will apparently survive – mostly intact – to play another season. Their (belated) annual season ticket subscription drive finally began this evening – which should (if most of their faithful climb back on board) generate enough cash to both see them through the current season and get them going next year. And the current core of musicians will remain relatively intact: their numbers will be reduced only by normal player attrition (musicians moving on to new jobs).
But what a price (agreed upon just today) the entire organization will have to pay to stay in business. For starters, the musicians will be furloughed – without pay – for eight weeks next season: a quarter of their usual eight-month run. Their overworked supporting staff – AND conductors – will similarly suffer a 25% pay cut. Hey, nobody expected a happy solution in this economic climate.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that we orchestral fans will have to suffer along with them. The coming season’s schedule (published tonight) offers a full array of eight Masterworks concerts, plus the usual complement of five Pops and four Backstage Pass events. There will also be more special chamber performances and collaborative events than before … haven’t I told you that these musicians want to WORK?
Sure, the music will be restricted mostly to smaller-scale pieces that the core orchestra can do justice to … but I, for one, can happily put up with that until the bad times come again no more. Also, the orchestra will save significant extra bucks by relying more on local talent to fill solo roles rather than import glam, high-priced superstars. But just wait ‘til you hear some of the prime local artists they’ve got lined up.
I’ll have to make you wait for my formal review of this delightful evening’s performances: it’ll run this Wednesday in the coming City Paper print edition (also online, at our website). Suffice it to say here that it was another winner.
Speaking of winners – ALL of Chucktown’s classical music lovers can now claim that happy status. Our cherished orchestra will live to play another day. Let’s hope and pray that they can stand the financial deprivation and strain. I challenge all of you to cudgel your brains – you know, exercise that good ol’ American ingenuity – and come up with creative ways to ease their burden.
Above all, never forget that the main thing these wonderful people want out of life is to make beautiful music – for US.