Saturday, August 4, 2007

Dayton Phil in the IM magazine

The August 2007 issue of International Musician (the official journal of the American Federation of Musicians) has a cover story on the Dayton Philharmonic. It is a special story because the focus of the article is on the musicians’ committee and how they have worked closely and effectively with the orchestra leadership, the local union, and on behalf of the musicians in the orchestra.

I have been playing with the Dayton Philharmonic as a substitute musician for about five years now, and I just recently became a regular member of the orchestra. In those five years I have witnessed the huge growth and increased stature of this regional orchestra. This article addresses how committee members have succeeded, over the last seven years, in bridging common gaps between musicians and management. Because initiatives have been pursued with innovation and commitment, everyone involved has come out of their negotiating work more united in purpose for the future of the institution. It is no mean accomplishment.

Principal clarinetist John Kurokawa*, principal bassoonist Jennifer Speck, and violinist Tom Fetherston (all of whom have committee experience) are given ample space to express themselves, as are Don Sutton, the secretary of the local union, and Kareem Powell, the union’s current young president. It is genuinely refreshing and uplifting to read testimony from these people about working together for the benefit not of individuals, but rather for the benefit of an improved orchestra experience for everyone. Since the arts media often focus on the more negative stories about orchestra negotiations, I recommend this article to anyone who would like to witness a process with good results.

Perhaps the most palpable sign that the Dayton Philharmonic is healthy and aimed for higher achievement is its newly constructed performance venue. The orchestra moved from a mediocre hall to the grand and acoustically excellent Schuster Center in 2003, and the difference in the orchestra’s performances is obvious to musicians and audiences alike. (See the online article’s great accompanying picture that captures the immensity of the hall’s vertical space.) Don Sutton and John Kurokawa weigh in with their thoughts on the new space at the end of the article:

"Schuster Center has added class. The members are proud of it, and so is the community. The sound inside the hall is great. It's night and day compared to Memorial Hall," says Sutton, a sentiment echoed by Kurokawa. "Schuster Center has done wonders for the morale of the orchestra," Kurokawa says. "It is one of the most wonderful halls I've ever played in."

I can only agree wholeheartedly.

*John is a well-known colleague and friend; we recently participated in a fun chamber music event for donors to the Dayton Philharmonic. Read about that here and here.