Seattle Symphony Annual General Meeting Musicians’ Report

The Seattle Symphony's Annual General Meeting was held September 28th in Nordstrom Hall. Violist, and Seattle Symphony and Opera Players' Organization Committee Chairperson, Timothy Hale gave a speech at the meeting. Mr. Hale detailed the Musicians' roller-coaster ride last season; a ride resulting in what the Musicians see as a stronger, more united organization dedicated both to continuing the high musical and civic ideals of Maestro Gerard Schwarz and to a bright new future under the leadership of Maestro Ludovic Morlot.

Annual General Meeting Musicians’ Report

Good afternoon, and thank you for the opportunity to give a Musicians’ Report.

It is always a challenge to prepare remarks for this event: Musicians may be used to speaking and used to being on stage - but we are not used to speaking while being on stage...

The challenge is compounded this year when one of the subjects is reflecting on last season.

The 2009-2010 season was one of extreme highs and lows.

Little did we know when we ended the previous season, the 2008-09 season, with Bernstein’s Second Symphony, The Age of Anxiety, that it was describing the season then ahead of us.

I truly enjoyed hearing Joe Cook, our stage manager, announce back stage every evening at the end of intermission “Anxiety orchestra onstage”.

Anxiety Orchestra - for better or worse, that label applied to the Seattle Symphony during the 2009-2010 Season.

Over the Summer, when I was asked by friends and acquaintances about the season just concluded, my response was the same: It was the most challenging and most difficult year of my professional life - not necessarily musically, but professionally - yet it ended more optimistically than I imagined possible.

We came closer to a work stoppage than at any time in a generation. When contract talks break down to this extent, it is rarely about how much is in the paycheck or what the health care plan looks like. It is more often due to fundamental and philosophical differences.

Such was the case during last season’s contract talks. From the Musicians’ perspective, the very definition and nature of the institution were at stake and in jeopardy.

The choice was clear: we were willing to consider temporarily sacrificing our livelihoods to save the institution.

And, indeed, the Musicians have made demonstrable and tangible sacrifices for the sake of the institution numerous times, last season’s being only the latest.

As that saying goes, “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. So we all, Board, Administration and Musicians, emerged from those talks, albeit warily and a little battered, with a greater mutual understanding, an appreciation of the value of openness, and a shared vision for the future of the Seattle Symphony.

This took a leap of faith on everyone’s part, and a desire to replace doubt and suspicion with trust and respect.

Whether consciously or subliminally, we all moved on to collectively create the next successful phase in our continuing history.

On behalf of the Musicians, I wish to thank Nancy Evans and the members of the Music Director Search Committee for their role in that history which has yet to come. We genuinely appreciate the sense of responsibility and seriousness of purpose with which they approached the search.

Also, thanks to Elena Dubinets, for her dedication, support and guidance throughout that process.

And as we look on the last 20-plus years and ahead to the season before us, I wish to thank our Music Director, Gerard Schwarz for his leadership, and, most importantly, for instilling in this orchestra an unequivocal pursuit of excellence and an inexorable sense of forward momentum.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge Leslie, the Transition Team and the Board leadership for extending the invitation to the Musicians to join together to realize our shared goals for this organization which unites us.

As I said earlier, I’m optimistic.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at concerts this season.

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