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Classical Notes

Updates: orchestras and recordings

Posted at 11:20 AM on August 22, 2006 by Don Lee

Having been away on vacation, I haven't had a chance to suggest that you take a look at Minnesota Orchestra violist Sam Bergman's thoughtful answers to a series of questions I posed--questions about the challenges to making orchestra recordings. His answers are in the Comments section following my August 7 post. Thanks, Sam!

In answer to one question, Sam says that "for real change in the area of recordings to occur, the AFM [American Federation of Musicians] and the major orchestra managers will need to collaborate in a very serious way."

That reminds me that I should update an April 26 post about a serious media rights collaboration we thought was under way at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra--a deal to make all of the orchestra's past and future concert recordings available for streaming and downloading. In recent weeks we've learned that this agreement, which the April 24 press release fairly described as a "landmark," is apparently not a done deal.

The news emerged late last month when Minnesota Public Radio announced it's cancelling the SPCO's 2007 national broadcast season because the media understanding was not firmed up. Neither musicians nor management at the SPCO will explain what the snag is. Word as of yesterday is that the two sides are still negotiating.

My guess is that some musicians--here and elsewhere in the country--fear the precedent this agreement will set. Are they afraid the SPCO is getting too far ahead of the rest of the field?