From the upper-midwest comes this intriguing news:
Minnesota Orchestra trims guests to save cash
When a symphony orchestra announces guest-star cancellations, it's usually because a pianist broke a finger or a visiting conductor got the flu.
The Minnesota Orchestra has made changes to its 2009-10 season for another reason: to save money.
When announced late last year, the upcoming season featured concerts on Oct. 29 and 30 with guest conductor James Conlon, and on a weekend next February featuring guest conductor Robert Spano and violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Those big-name guests have been canceled, and replacement concerts announced. The changes were made "for budgetary reasons," said Gwen Pappas, orchestra director of public relations.
Here's some of the changes: James Conlon conducting Prokofiev and Dvorak replaced by an audience development series called "Inside the Classics" led by Orchestra's assistant conductor, and highlighted by Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, "the Pastoral." Violinist Salerno-Sonnenberg, replaced by an orchestral concert led by a former student of music director Osmo Vanska.
I think that more orchestras should be dropping expensive soloists and conductors or at least driving the fees down. Right now some are vastly overpayed. I mean, they aren't overpaid when you compare them to CEOs or motivational speakers or pro athletes, and I wish the arts and education were more highly paid. But considering how cash-strapped orchestras are, these fees are often exorbitant.
But I am not sure that dropping them now and so publicly is such a good idea, especially when the MO is replacing them with clearly lesser fare. I think it'd be better to plan on making next season less star heavy before it is announced. If to make it through the season you had to cut a concert already announced, a concert that was part of the reason some people bought season tix, you'd be better off at least performing the same rep and even spinning the situation differently...