On the Marginal Revolution blog, economist Tyler Cowen quotes bits of a Wall Street Journal article on orchestra strikes by Terry Teachout and ends with what seems to be an implication that many orchestra musicians and conductors are being paid too much.
I had expected many of the comments that followed to state orchestra musicians are overpaid bums, but to my surprise very few of the nearly 100 comments did. Instead, there were some of the most interesting discussions about the proficiency of orchestra musicians and ensembles I have seen outside of an arts related news source. If anything, some orchestra might be tempted to cite these commenters in their negotiations.
There were multiple mentions of musicians today being more skilled than those in the 1950s and 1960s and easily able to tackle compositions with which their predecessors struggled.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra had a number of fans and comments about them emphasized their proficiency:
26 October 25, 2016 at 11:47 am
The only time I heard the Chicago Symphony live was when I was in Chicago for a conference years ago. They played Petrouchka, and to this day I remember the flute solo as being absolutely breathtaking. I had never really thought about that solo before that moment. There really are differences between the delivery of the very top performers and the rest, and they aren’t necessarily marginal differences.
27 October 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm
For example, I attend a minor league opera series in Los Angeles called Pacific Opera Project that is wildly entertaining and quite moderately priced. They’ll do anything for a laugh. It’s great entertainment value per dollar.
The only problem is when they spring for a really good singer and he suddenly reminds you that the rest of the singers in the production aren’t really good and you are missing out on a whole world of unbelievable singing because you can’t afford it.
October 25, 2016 at 7:17 am
That raises an interesting question: if the next time the CSO goes out on strike, if management could secretly fire everybody and replace them with Lyric Opera musicians, how many season ticket holders would notice that diminution in quality?
I’d guess maybe less than 50% but more than 10%, but I’m just making those numbers up.
Since I am living in Ohio, I can’t let Cleveland’s praises remain unsung:
I was interested to see the following comment for the very Industrial Revolution assumptions it makes about the purpose of unions: