Tag Archives: recent news

H.E.A.R. Day New York Honors Les Paul

Last week on H.E.A.R. Day New York a panel of medical and health experts discussed the importance of improving hearing conservations for performers, professionals, and those who enjoy listening to music as well. This year Les Paul was honored with the H.E.A.R Leadership Award.

Kathy Peck, ED of H.E.A.R. has this to say:

“Les Paul was a friend of H.E.A.R. Les knew that further work was going to be necessary in the area of music hearing conservation. Now, along with partner the Les Paul Foundation and others, H.E.A.R. presents schools with Listen Smart Workshops and the Listen Smart Film Series that will allow us to continue our mission in providing services and educating the public to hearing conservation.”

We all know musicians suffer from a lot of hearing issues, and that’s why a cause like this is so important. To raise awareness of the real dangers and come up with ways to prevent those dangers from occurring.

Make sure you check out their site hearnet.com for more information.

Walmart Reports Sales Woes

A leaked internal Walmart memo urged store managers to improve lagging sales over the past 18 months by keeping shelves stocked, among other tips. However, the memo also ignores two of the more obvious solutions to the chain’s woes: giving workers adequate hours and paying them a living wage of $15 per hour.

“Understaffing, from the sales floor to the front end, has greatly affected the store,” says Janet Sparks, a member of the OUR Walmart campaign seeking to improve wages and working conditions. Substantial staffing cuts have taken place since the start of 2010 with hours cut so thin they are unable to complete the necessary work.

Baltimore Runs the Orchestra Numbers

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra gathered data for classical performances by 21 major American orchestras on the 2014-2015 season and uncovered some interesting statistics.

Those orchestras will perform 1,000 different pieces by 286 different composers for a total of almost 4,600 times. The average year of composition for the pieces is 1886, and only 9.5% were written after the start of the new millennium. Only 1.8% of the works come from female composers and American composers make up less than 11% of the pieces. One out of eight performances feature pieces by Beethoven (317 performances) or Mozart (313 performances). John Adams is the most performed living composer (35 performances). Around 11% of the compositions are from composers who are still living, 14.8% of them women and 54% of them Americans.

Warner Music Group Announces Prize for Young Classical Musicians

Warner Music Group announced a $100,000 prize for young classical musicians between the ages of 18 and 35. The award, presented in association with Carnegie Hall, is funded by billionaire industrialist Len Blavatnik who purchased Warner in 2011. Sixteen candidates from Carnegie Hall’s 2014-2015 roster are in the running for the first award. The Blavatnik Foundation has been active in funding arts and science. “One of the primary missions of our foundation is to support and encourage creative young people in a diversity of disciplines,” says Blavatnik. “Acknowledging and helping young musicians is essential if we are to see classical music thrive for generations to come.

Kentucky Votes Down Right to Work

The Kentucky GOP promised to put the Bluegrass State in the “right to work” column, if they flipped the Democratic-majority state House of Representatives. A slew of GOP radio, TV, and print ads touted the right to work law with claims that the measure would lead to thousands of good jobs in Kentucky.

Paducah Plumbers and Steamfitters (UA) Local 184 challenged the Republicans on their own turf, the anti-union newspaper Paducah Sun, by taking out a full-page ad in the paper debunking Republican claims about right to work.

In the end, the GOP came up short. Democrats in Kentucky held onto their seats and Kentucky will remain the only non-right to work state in the South. State Representative Gerald Watkins of Paducah was one of the victorious labor-endorsed Democrats. “The ad was great and strong union support really helped me,” says Watkins, who was among those targeted by the GOP for defeat.

A relieved Jeff Wiggins, president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9447, says he feared a Republican majority legislature wouldn’t have stopped with a right to work law. “They would have repealed our prevailing wage law, too,” he says. “We’d have ended up working for less money, and our workplaces would have become less safe. The Republicans would have turned back the clock to the time of no unions and the company store.”

Musicians Question Streaming Business Model

Bucking the trend of offering music on streaming sites that provide minuscule returns to artists, Taylor Swift of Local 257 (Nashville, TN) has pulled her entire country music catalog from Spotify and not offered her debut pop album to the site at all. And the album, 1989, has gone platinum despite her lack of presence on streaming sites.

Veteran musician David Byrne of Local 802 (New York City) also pulled his music from Spotify, telling The Guardian that it’s not a viable business model for musicians. Musician Iggy Pop complained during a recent BBC lecture that he can no longer make a living in the industry. “Artists have always been ripped off by corporations,” says the Local 802 member. “Now the public is in on the free ride, too.”

Kevin Smith New Minnesota Orchestra President

It was only a year ago that the Minnesota Orchestra was locked out, but with a new hire they are getting back into the swing of things. Kevin Smith – currently the interim president and CEO – agreed to stay on through the 2017-18 season as the official Minnesota Orchestra president.

Smith took over from Michael Henson, the former CEO who became the main target and criticism for many issues in the organization. The board was searching for a new president, and Smith wasn’t even in the running. However, he turned out to be so extraordinary the board asked him to remain in his position.

“It was not in my original plan, but I thought: Why not, it’ll be an adventure,” Smith commented.

Board Chairman Gordon Sprenger said, “Kevin exceeded my expectations and we felt that if there was anyone who could help us find solutions, this was the guy right now.”

Smith has to deal with new contract talks with the musicians whose deal ends in 2017, and music director Osmo Vänskä. While Smith said he enjoyed working with Vänskä, it is the board’s decision whether he stays or goes.

Either way, it sounds like Smith is working hard for the orchestra.

“We want to start sooner rather than later with the musicians.” He said, “We need to have a clear financial picture moving forward to show what we can offer. They know that, we know that.”

Principal cellist Anthony Ross said in a statement regarding Smith’s hiring that “the musicians are delighted.”

This all sounds like good news for an orchestra that hasn’t been having the best time recently. Hopefully, things will only improve from here on.