The personnel policy that the NHMF Orchestra has been working under since 1992 holds protection for the musicians, such as rights of contract renewal (tenure), allowance for personal leave and a dismissal process that includes peer review. These are all usual terms found in any Orchestral collective bargaining agreement, and rightly so. They are there to protect single musicians or groups of musicians from arbitrary or capricious decisions that reflect the self-interest of an individual or group.
Management’s continued insistence that all incumbents are reinvited for the 2010 season is misleading, since they use the term “incumbent” to mean only those musicians who will be given contracts. In fact Management is attempting to put a new personnel policy in place for the 2010 season which would allow them to permanently replace 30 of us with 20 outside professional musicians and 10 students of Management’s choosing. This represents a loss of half of our Orchestra. They have removed rights of renewal and peer review. There is no cap on further dismissals. The half of our Orchestra who is invited back for 2010 could be dismissed in its entirety following next summer’s Festival. Newly appointed Artistic Director, Jonathan Gandelsman, is expected to review, within a few weeks time, the players left in the orchestra next summer, with an eye on who to dismiss. His decision to dismiss will be final. No appeal.
This represents a huge departure from sound orchestral management, and is unheard of in the music world. It is a thinly disguised attempt to replace this orchestra with another one of Management’s choosing.
Add to that the icing on the cake. Management recently inserted new language into the policy that would further reduce the incumbent musicians, due to a lack of funds. The Orchestra committee agreed on August 14 to Management’s final offer BECAUSE we were told that next year’s season would be funded through an anonymous donor.
If the Board of the NHMF is naive enough to believe, as Rusty McLear has stated, that “We are baffled that the musicians would reject a personnel policy simply because it is grounded in sound fiscal principles”, then they are really in the dark about what they are doing. Doesn’t a rejection vote of 59-3 tell them anything? We also wonder what Mr. McLear could mean by “shared interests and common ground”, lofty words indeed, when set against a backdrop of an entire management that has failed to take the pulse of its orchestra, chorus or the members of its own audience.