Can musicians be replaced?

Just as I was trying to write some chants for striking members of the Cleveland Orchestra (“Heck no, we won’t blow”?), comes word their one-day strike is over. Terms of the settlement — pay was the big issue — were not disclosed.

Perhaps orchestra officials showed them this:

Sure, it’s not, well, the Cleveland Orchestra, but it does lead to some questions that orchestras must be asking. Why do people go to orchestra concerts? Is it for the “liveness” of the music or the performers playing it? Can they be replaced?

  • bsimon

    Listening to the story last eve during the drive home it struck me that the players don’t likely have a lot of alternatives, should their employer choose not to bend to their will. Particularly in a down economy, how many job opportunities are there for, say, a trombonist accustomed to a 6-figure paycheck?

  • Musicians can’t be replaced. Without musicians in the first place, would the Gameletron ever have been created? There will always be a need for musicians because we are human.

    But the need for “orchestral musicians” – now that is a good question. I’ve long struggled with trying to answer that question in my own brain. Orchestral music was once very popular. There is an abundance of popular music made today by very talented musicians. Are “popular music” musicians replaceable?

  • Sam

    Orchestral music was once very popular.

    Still is. Locally, the Minnesota Orchestra draws around 400,000 people a year to its concerts, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra draws many thousands as well. The Cleveland Orchestra is widely considered America’s best, and is that city’s cultural pride and joy, much as the Guthrie Theater is here. (By the way, the terms of the agreement have now been disclosed in the Cleveland media. The musicians accepted a two-year wage freeze.)

    As to the question of live music in the age of electronics and recorded music, I just think there’s no comparison. Hearing a singer/songwriter, a jazz trumpeter, a rock band, a hip-hop artist, or a symphony orchestra live and in person is an electric experience that cannot be duplicated on CD, TV, or online.

    There’s also something to be said for the power of watching a human being doing something that you can’t do yourself. If we could all hit a baseball 400 feet, Joe Mauer wouldn’t be nearly as impressive. Hearing a great musician has the same power to inspire and awe us.

    And besides, isn’t music more fun when you’re not alone?