Violinist Ilkka Talvi was concermaster of the Seattle Symphony until his recent firing. Turns out that he started blogging this month and there’s some interesting reading there in case anyone wants to check it out. His very first post (scroll down to the bottom) is one I can easily relate to; I’ve definitely played under the “DLU” sorts of conductors! (Some of those conductors seem to be “CUI” — conducting under the influence — and, in fact, I know one who often was.) Many of us who are at that wonderful age (hah!) where we need reading glasses added to our eyeglasses prescription even decide to have them made in such a way that the conductor remains a bit of a blur. Heck, with some conductors it’s just safer! (I’m NOT speaking of the symphony conductors I’ve worked with recently, by the way, so stop your guessing!)
Anyway, it’s a blog I’ll keep reading.
As to firing a concertmaster — that does happen. I haven’t a clue what Mr. Talvi’s particular story is, so I’m not going to defend or criticize here. I also won’t comment on the conductor, Gerard Schwarz, although I’m fairly sure he came down here once and I have a feeling I remember it. (I’ll have to verify this with my colleagues before I state that he was here as fact, though.)
But losing a job … OUCH. We musicians don’t have it easy, but at least those of us in the “ranks” usually have contracts that allow a bit of protection once we get tenure. A concertmaster is usually not included in the orchestral contract (from all I know, anyway, which is very little!). I’m very happy to sit in the oboe section, thank you very much.