I’ll never forget watching a NBA post game news conference when the winning coach was asked what made him think to put the ball in the hands of a rookie who then scored seemingly at will to win the game. His response and I paraphrase:
I didn’t, the guy thought we were in trouble and he stepped up to help the team, he led the leaders and we won the game!
The Peoria Symphony needs someone like that to step up to save their team…well someone has tried and failed, so now someone else needs to ……Time for some Schock treatment!……not a misspelling I assure you…..
As this article shows, the Peoria Symphony is being torn apart. Everyone is trying to take the lead, and communication is devolving into letters and petitions. It’s as if each faction is building a wall around themselves to lob proverbial grenades at each other, and guess what….. THEY ARE ALL HITTING THEIR TARGETS! Worse than that though is that in the cross fire is their future audience, donors, foundation grants and board members. Or to put it more succinctly, the survival of the orchestra and therefore live Symphonic music in their community. They have already suffered their first casualty in this regard as former Caterpillar Inc. President Robert Gilmore who offered to be the mediator is pulling out his substantial annual contribution since he was rejected outright.
This all stemmed from a dispute between music director David Commanday and the board that became public after a clandestine delivery of a packet of info to the Peoria Journal Star.
From an an earlier article:
Some key members of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra Board are guilty of mismanagement, making misleading statements and violating the music director’s contract, according to departing music director David Commanday.
Commanday made the statements in a more than 30-page document sent to the full board last fall.
Commanday wrote the document in response to board members at the Peoria Symphony who changed the orchestra’s 2008-09 program without his knowledge as well as statements in the music director’s performance review.
“I urge the Board(sic) to put a stop to this inappropriate conduct by a few members of the Board(sic) leadership,” Commanday wrote on Nov. 17. “It is vital that these members take responsibility for their mistakes and act to correct them. If not, they should step down and allow the institution to recover and restore its full potential . . .”
The board voted not to renew the popular music director’s contract late last year.
Commanday’s letter was part of a packet of documents that contained both the music director’s performance review and Commanday’s critique of the review. The packet was delivered anonymously to the Journal Star
YIKES, and now the orchestra wants to unionize and one reason it seems is because they are worried about being treated the same way that David was!
From Michael Dicker, principal Bassoon:
“A clear contract . . . protects the musicians,” Dicker said. “You know then that it’s not going to be arbitrary, that it’s not somebody’s friend who is trying to influence a personnel change.”
Dicker said he’s not pointing any fingers.
“It’s simply that we’re concerned, I believe at least a majority is, that when you have a full house of people at almost every concert, when the music is being received very positively from concert-goers, when the orchestra is pleased to work with somebody, when the economic situation of the orchestra appears to the players to be quite solid, then why is that decision regarding (Commanday) being made,” Dicker said. “The manner in which that was done is a way in which the players in the orchestra could be treated as well.” (my emphasis)
I’m not against unions at all and it’s refreshing to hear someone go to bat for their music director, but it seems that there’s some confusion within their own ranks as to why they want to unionize (from the latest article):
Players’ representative Peggy Bonner also spoke to the board about a recent letter sent to symphony business manager Judy Furniss announcing that the players were seeking possible union representation. Collective bargaining agreements are natural progressions in the professional development of an orchestra, Bonner said. She said that this action “in no way, whatsover” was meant to intervene in the situation between Commanday and the board. The two are separate issues, Bonner said. (my emphasis)
The board vote was 16-7 to uphold the decision, even after being presented with a petition of hundreds of signatures gathered by Gary and Sara James, representatives of Save Our Symphony, a local group. The board have even announced the opening and have received resumes. OK on that point, I would at least suspend the search until something is resolved or there will be no point in having a search!
Bottom line, everyone is against each other, there’s blame to go round, and it’s an ugly situation being played out in public. Curiously I have not read any statements from their executive director Judy Furniss. Maybe silence is the best option at this point!
So now what? Well it’s time to introduce the rookie who just may have a “shot” at saving this. The Congressman from Peoria Illinois is Aaron Schock recently voted by Huffington Post as the hottest freshman in Congress. His story is amazing with tales of overcoming adversity such as running for a seat on the school board at the age of 19 and after being rejected for the ballot, entering as a write in candidate and winning! He’s only 27 but has a stake (and his next election) in his home town. He has national attention, obvious skills, and I would hazard a guess he would not be refused a meeting if he could be convinced to help! Whats more, it looks like a hopeless situation, and that is what he seems to be good at dealing with! ( Of course there is another rookie, a junior Senator from Illinois, but it seems he may be tied up for a while!)
They now need to at least unify to the point that they agree to the need for an intervention, or their orchestra will be lost!