In the New Jersey edition of Sunday’s (3/22) New York Times, Phillip Lutz writes, “Like many musicians who play for the handful of small professional orchestras outside of New York City these days, Gabriel Schaff, a violinist, is struggling to cobble together a living. Mr. Schaff, 49, has contracts that guarantee work with four orchestras, including the Stamford Symphony Orchestra and Long Island Philharmonic. He substitutes in others, including the Westfield Symphony Orchestra in New Jersey. And he takes side work, like Broadway shows, in between. But side work has grown scarcer as Broadway retrenches. Substitute jobs are in shorter supply. Nearly all the orchestras Mr. Schaff regularly plays for are offering less work than in the past, because of the economic downturn. … In addition to the Long Island Philharmonic, the Stamford Symphony and the Westfield Symphony, regional orchestras in the New York region include groups like the Westchester Philharmonic; the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut; and, in New Jersey, the Colonial Symphony, the Garden State Philharmonic and the New Philharmonic of New Jersey. These ensembles have part-time schedules but full-time professional players. … For the professional musicians, rehearsal time has emerged as a major point of contention. It is often the first thing orchestras trim, since such cuts are not visible to the public.”
Posted March 23, 2009