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The Musicians Union v. the L.A. Chamber Orchestra

December 06, 1987

Regarding John Henken's "Musicians Union and L.A. Chamber Orchestra Out of Tune?" (Nov. 22), as a long-time member of American Federation of Musicians Local 47, and as a former member of the Board of Directors of the Union, I have observed numerous firings of musicians for reasons other than lack of ability. This reflects the lopsided supply and demand situation existing in the entertainment industry that makes the expression of one's views so treacherous.

Paul Shure, Janet Lakatos and the union should be commended for taking a firm stand in suing the L.A. Chamber Orchestra. This case may set a precedent, and it undoubtedly will protect other musicians from unjust harassment.

The future of the Chamber Orchestra under Iona Brown, in such an oppressive atmosphere, looks bleak. This is regretable because the L.A. Chamber Orchestra under Neville Marriner and Gerard Schwartz has made tremendous strides.

The Iona Brown format may give us authentic Baroque Vivaldi, but it also mandates the engagement of guest conductors to perform modern repertory. The word baroque (barroco) originally meant a misshapen pearl in Portuguese. Iona Brown may be giving us exactly that.

Looking back, one may wonder whether Marriner or Schwartz really gave us "authentic" baroque performances. As I recall, Marriner seemed content in the role of the traditional conductor without bringing his violin on the stage. Schwartz would play his trumpet occasionally, otherwise he also seemed to follow the standard role of the conductor.

The Brown format with proper staging may have broad appeal for dinner show-type audiences at Caesars Palace. But its misshapen format would offend any red-blooded concertmaster.

Shure and Lakatos were critical of this and were fired. Not an unusual event in Hollywood, this latter-day final solution to a baroque controversy.


Granada Hills

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