Friday, March 15, 2013

SFS Musicians Fleeing?

The musicians raise the specter of more losses such as David Herbert, with orchestra members fleeing to other bands. Does anyone seriously think this will happen over the few thousand dollars difference between SFS salaries and those of Chicago and New York?

Me, I do not, for a number of reasons.
  1. There just aren't that many openings in orchestras. This is especially true for wind and brass players.
  2. There's an immense amount of competition for those seats that are open.
  3. SFS is still in better financial shape than almost any other orchestra in the country, with a long record of good seasons and strong fundraising. SFS has the second-largest endowment in the country, with only the BSO ahead. 
  4. Lots of other orchestras have big problems: they're in terrible financial shape, or have/have had labor problems (Philly, Detroit, Minnesota, etc.), or have terrible concert halls (NYPO), or are in artistic trouble (BSO - will they name a new MD this year?) or have terrible weather. Okay, the weather is not their fault.
  5. Most other orchestras still pay worse than SFS. Of course, housing costs in Houston, Cleveland, Detroit, etc. are still lower than in SF, but....then you're in Houston, Cleveland, or Detroit.
  6. SFS has several openings: One or two in the oboe section, depending on what Jonathan Fischer does; associate principal trumpet; principal percussion; possibly principal timpani, if David Herbert stays in Chicago. There's at least one other nameless player whose retirement would not surprise me a bit. I would expect players in various troubled orchestras to be eyeing those spots hungrily.
  7. The defections I'd be most likely to worry about? Well, the LAPO has had an ongoing fiasco with replacing their principal flute, though I suppose commuting from SF to LA could be tough. Update:And the NYPO is having principal clarinet problems. Actually, the NYPO finally filled that chair. And now there's an opening in Chicago, where David Herbert is headed.


Russell said...

Re NYPO Pricipal Clarinet:


Lisa Hirsch said...

Um, wow. I get the NYPO's press releases and either I missed this announcement or...they didn't send one?

Here's a clickable link to the WQXR article about the NYPO's new principal clarinetist.

CK Dexter Haven said...

FWIW, regarding the LA Phil Principal Trombone chair that was awarded to Nitzan Haroz (formerly of Philly) last season . . . word on the street was that the runner-up at that audition was SFS's Tim Higgins.

Lisa Hirsch said...

That is really interesting!