Let’s see if you can answer today’s orchestra management question:
Q: What do you call an orchestral association that doesn’t employ orchestra musicians?
A: A presenter…
According to reports in an article by Marisa Yamane in the 10/10/2010 edition of Hawaii’s KHON2.com, the impending Chapter 11 re-organization plan from the current Honolulu Symphony leadership would turn the 110 year old orchestra association into a performing arts presenter. The punch line is they would apparently consider themselves a symphony orchestra association.
However, it seems that the Honolulu Symphony’s current executive director, Majken Mechling, doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that in order to be a symphonic orchestra, the organization must actually employ enough orchestral musicians to perform orchestral music. According to the KHON2.com report, Mechling claims that the organization will opt for hiring and importing predominantly Asian orchestras as a cornerstone of their re-organization plan. The other components of the plan intend to focus on education programs that “reach out to young children” and community outreach in the form of “apprenticeships and scholarships.”
The brief descriptions of the education and outreach components sound particularly generic and ordinary within the field (not to mention the Honolulu Symphony had similar programs in place prior to filing for bankruptcy) but without additional details, we won’t know more. Consequently, the only component that appears to be changed from the previous structure is permanently replacing existing contracted musicians with subcontracted orchestras from outside the US.
Ultimately, the proposal to move from orchestral association to presenter is one the bankruptcy judge will have to consider when the Honolulu Symphony presents the complete plan at the next scheduled bankruptcy hearing this Friday.
In the meantime, if you’re just getting up to speed on what’s been happening at the Honolulu Symphony and what sort of executive Mechling is, you can catch up through the Honolulu Symphony article index.