18. May 2009 · 4 comments · Categories: Links

The annual Nutcracker production at the Stevens Center will soon have a different sound.

Student musicians from UNC School of the Arts will perform in the pit during the show’s run in December, replacing paid musicians from the Winston-Salem Symphony, UNCSA officials announced yesterday. Ransom Wilson, the music director of the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra, will conduct.

Sigh. Quite some time ago a board member of a now defunct orchestra threatened something like this.

Later on in the same article:

The decision to go with student musicians as opposed to paid professionals does make educational sense for UNCSA: The students will gain some experience performing a score that they will almost certainly encounter if they become professionals.

Heh. Sure. But if your teachers were in that professional group and you are taking their gig, you can assume they won’t be entirely pleased and I’m guessing they won’t be offering your name up for as a sub any time soon. Of course if these students do land an orchestra job in the Winston-Salem Orchestra they can kiss the Nutcracker gig goodbye.

Hmmm. What about the students who have already made it into the Winston-Salem Orchestra? (If there are any; I was a professional symphony member when I was still at the university). They won’t be allowed to play.

You can read the entire article here.


  1. I think if there are students who already have made it into the Winston-Salem Orchestra, they would still be allowed to play, it’s just that they would be playing as students, not as professionals. It would be just like any University-related performance: they wouldn’t be getting paid to perform in the University Orchestra, but would be for playing in the Winston-Salem Orchestra. So in effect, they would play the gig, they just wouldn’t be getting paid for it.

    And I guess if any musicians from the Symphony really wanted to play the gig, they could always enrol as students, and have to do the gig for free…

    I don’t see how this is really a great idea. Sure, students need experience, and organisations need to save money, and as this is a UNCSA production, it does make sense in a way to have their own students perform it. However, it is a bit of a kick in the pants for the professional musicians who have been doing it for a while.

    I guess the only good thing is that there’s hopefully still enough time for them to replace that gig with something that’s hopefully as well paying

  2. I find it significant that none of the symphony officials were available for comment on this story.

  3. I guess the other good thing, if one really looks hard for the silver lining, is that it’s being performed with live music rather than canned, as Oakland Ballet did for a couple of years, and Silicon Valley has done for part of their seasons. But I hope they can reinstate the professional orchestra when finances improve in W-S.

  4. Yeah, I guess we can look at that. One wonders if they asked the professional folks if they’d be willing to take a bit of a cut during hard times. And I wonder, too, if everyone will hear the line, “It sounded better than the professionals!” Sigh. That’s what our high school musical theater director used to always tell her kids. I played there; she was very wrong. They played like the good high school musicians they were. And once a parent came up and told me (I played for them one year) that the group sounded that way too. The teacher knew better. The parent didn’t. I fear the latter even more than the former.