Letter from David Wiebe to SPCO Musicians, 11/6

Message: Dear St. Paul CO members,

There are evidently times in when people in management or leadership position put themselves on the wrong side of history.  Clearly the orchestral management in Minnesota has lost its way.  As the musicians who actually MAKE the music that your entire world revolves around, it is inconceivable that management would be so clueless as to get into a fight over small amounts of money, small in the scope of the kind stellar and august membership that you, as professionals, bring to your orchestra.  Is it that the management, which is supposed to “manage” the orchestra, would actually prefer to destroy the institutions, such as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra, which they are supposedly serving?  Would that make it easier for them than paying the players who actually create the product that IS these institutions?

It’s so blatantly obvious: when you have the precious goose that lays the golden eggs, you don’t starve it because feed costs are high.    What seems frightening is the across our nation, management of orchestras are apparently made up of the kind of business leaders who are “corporate raiders”, the ones who come into a company to make it “lean and mean”, and money for their stockholders.  For them, their mandate, however, has little to do with preserving the institution they supposedly came to rescue.  Across the nation, orchestras, filled with professionals who are the best of the best, are being locked out.  How can it make sense to deprive your institution of the very product that causes it to exist?  It truly boggles the mind.

Please forgive this preaching to the choir but the time for a fundamental change in the model of orchestral management is sorely due.  Something has gone terribly terribly wrong and it isn’t with the musicians who just want to work at their highest level and be paid accordingly.

I wish you all the best with this sad crisis.  So many people I speak to or read about are in support of your efforts.  I wish you all courage to survive this.

Sincerely yours,
David Wiebe
Woodstock, New York