Thursday (3/12) on the New York Times culture website ArtsBeat, James R. Oestreich writes about the expenses the Chicago Symphony Orchestra incurred with its recent programs of 20th-century music led by Pierre Boulez at Carnegie Hall. “Janacek’s thrillingly clarion Sinfonietta, heard on Monday, requires 12 trumpets and a few exotic brass instruments. Like most other orchestras, the Chicago Symphony has four full-time trumpeters. The rest, and several other brass players, were ringers, from the National, Pittsburgh and Houston symphony orchestras, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and elsewhere. Most were students of Chicago Symphony players past or present. They first had to be flown to Chicago, where they played a week of rehearsals and concerts for full pay. Then they had to be flown to New York for a day of rehearsal and performance. In addition to the day’s pay, they received a per diem and were put up in a hotel. The orchestra estimates the total cost for extra brass instrumentalists incurred by programming the Sinfonietta and touring with it at $20,000 to $22,000. … Certainly, many of us … would prefer to hear these unhackneyed landmarks of the orchestral literature than yet another performance of a war-horse concerto.”
Posted March 13, 2009

Photo: Pierre Boulez conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Credit: Todd Rosenberg