A seller’s market

My brother-in-bratsche-blogging, Charles Noble, caught an interesting
item in the Deseret Morning News to the effect that Gerard Schwartz
might be a candidate for the music directorship in Utah.

Charles is rightly skeptical that Utah might really be interested in
Schwartz or that Schwarz might want to leave Seattle. But it’s
surprising that the idea is even floating around.

It’s invariably amusing, whenever a music directorship opens up, to watch the local critic(s) put together a list of who they think is suitable; it’s always so far removed from reality. So this is certainly not evidence enough (or at all) to believe that Schwartz is really being considered by Utah.

But it’s been a strange year or so for music director hirings. The New York Phil hired Alan Gilbert, who by historical standards shouldn’t even have been on their radar screen. Pittsburgh and Dallas have both hired ex-orchestra musicians who are virtually unknown in this country. LA hired a veritable infant (albeit a massively talented and attractive one). And we hired someone who, judging by past practice, was really out of our league.

The current moment seems to be a seller’s market for conductors. I’m not quite sure why; there are a number of extremely able conductors who are unemployed or underemployed who (in my view) would do very well with orchestras that aren’t looking at anyone like them. But then I’m generally out of step with my colleagues when it comes to conductors.

And how did Milwaukee do so well in  a seller’s market? We were lucky. And it’s a seller’s market when a conductor can live in a town where his daughter can go to the same elementary school as did her mother, where his son can breathe clean air, where he can sleep in his own bed at night – and still be music director of a significant American orchestra at what must be a competitive salary. More than in most music directorship searches, we were hired by the conductor, rather than the other way around. That’s a seller’s market.


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