The San Francisco Symphony has been on strike for over two weeks, demanding wages equal to similar caliber orchestras like the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony.

In Chicago, however, things may not be any better. Chicago had its own strike earlier this season and a 2.5% pay cut in 2009. How can the San Francisco Symphony demand Chicago’s wages, if Chicago can’t even afford Chicago’s wages?

San Francisco and Chicago are certainly not alone in their financial troubles. Just in the past year we’ve seen crises at the symphonies in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Cleveland, Baltimore, and others. More emergencies are certainly on the horizon.

So what’s the problem?

Both the musicians and the management of our major orchestras are overpaid. They have failed to adapt to a changing market. Over the past 30 years they have demanded higher and higher paychecks while ticket sales and recording revenues have continued to drop dramatically. There is no business in the world that can sustain a negative revenue model like that.

Furthermore, there are too many of them. There are 51 major ICSOM orchestras and 80 more part-time ROPA orchestras through the United States. Surely we can all agree that orchestral music deserves a permanent place in American culture, but if the market (or public/private funding) can’t support 131 professional orchestras, then we should have less of them.

Decline in attendance at symphony concerts in U.S.The numbers are clear: classical music recordings represented just 1.9% of the music purchased in 2012 (an overall decrease of 20.5% in total album sales from the previous year), a number that surely indicates a general lack of interest by the U.S. consumer. The League of American Orchestras have recorded a significant decrease in concert attendance (see chart) between 1967 and 2000, and studies have shown that 73% of major orchestras operate on a deficit.

2% of working musicians

Americans’ disinterest in classical music is not sign of decline in our culture or an anti-intellectual climate. It’s not a referendum on the importance of music in our country. It’s not even a comment on our regard for most working musicians – because we’re not talking about most working musicians.

The ICSOM orchestras employ 4,000 musicians in North America, a number that represents just 2% of the professional musicians in the United States (source: 2010 US Census). The high-end, “luxury” orchestras (such as Chicago) are making enormous sums of money (Chicago: $173,000 average salary, plus benefits) compared to the average, full-time American musician, who makes an average annual salary, without benefits, of $27,558.

Why? Often the argument is something like this: “Classical music is harder than other kinds of music, requires more training and, therefore, demands higher compensation.”

Putting aside the overt classism that an argument like that requires, the supporting evidence is wearing thin. Yes, there was a time when classical musicians were subject to a duration and expense of training that far exceeded that of non-classical musicians – but that is no longer true. Jazz musicians and pop musicians now begin their formal training at an early age and study at the same over-priced colleges and conservatories as classical musicians.

So, then, why are symphony musicians paid so much more than other musicians?

The American Federation of Musicians

The answer lies in the story of the union – in this case the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). The AFM, unable to cope with the rise of synthesized music starting in the 1980s, then also unable to adapt to the changing music distribution technology of the late 90s and 00s, has all but lost its grip on the American music scene. The AFM has spent the last 30 years retreating; falling back to what it feels are its most defensible positions: major symphonies, Broadway shows, and the last vestiges of the formal TV/film recording scene in North America.

These positions are important for the AFM, not just for its legitimacy as an organization, but for the financial solvency of its pension fund. The aging membership of the AFM has put increasing pressure on this fund, which has been artificially propped up by the revenues of these last remaining assets.

It’s no wonder that the major orchestras have seen an unrealistic rise in wages over the last 30 years. According to a study done by the Stanford Business School in 2008, “the salaries of symphony musicians increased more rapidly than the pay of most other groups of workers in the late 20th century.”

Well, how else would the union make up for the loss of pension revenue?

The fallout

Unfortunately, the major orchestras are now paying the price. After so many years of wage gains coupled with attendance decreases, they find themselves in a particularly untenable position. Their members (and the thousands of highly-trained, college-debt-saddled pros that audition for every open position) have come to expect the current level of compensation to continue to increase, and they will fight for it.

In fact, they will even fight the AFM itself. In 2011, “under the guise of bankruptcy,” the Philadelphia Symphony was allowed to leave the AFM pension fund and start its own private retirement plan. This, obviously, paves the way for the other 130 orchestras to follow suit.

Would that happen? Who knows. But if it does, don’t look to Broadway and LA’s decimated recording scene to make up the difference. They are having their own troubles.

So what do we do? I would like to propose a solution.

Adaptation and innovation

Above all, the United States symphonies must adapt. They must do the same thing that other businesses do when their revenue models have become obsolete: they innovate.

Let’s begin by listing the assets that each of the major orchestras possess:

  • They have a highly skilled and educated workforce. Most orchestral musicians have an education equal to a graduate degree or higher, plus decades of supplemental training and experience.
  • They have an abundance of time. Despite musician’s legitimate needs for outside-of-work practice time, most major orchestras take summers off and spend only 20 hours a week at work.
  • Large facilities. Most major orchestras have large performances spaces housed in enormous buildings.

What can we create with these assets?

Imagine a symphony center that is divided into multiple uses. One side of the facility houses a state-of-the-art museum, full of music history exhibits curated by the musicians themselves (they certainly have the training for the job), and the other side includes large and small performances spaces for these musicians to rehearse, run master classes, and perform. Downstairs includes a music library of sheet music and rare recordings, as well as small rooms filled with enough internet-enabled technology to allow the symphony musicians to teach lessons in person, or via teleconference, to anywhere in the world.

The mixed-use facility would open up revenue streams for museum fees, performance fees, lessons fees and rental fees. With an expanded cultural footprint that now includes performance, museum curation, and education, the symphony organizations would be able to apply for a much wider range of local and federal grants. They could cast a much wider net in their private fundraising. Most importantly, the symphonies would serve a much more active, relevant, and valuable role to their community.

Yes, the musicians would have to work more hours. Yes, they would have to teach lessons through the symphony organization; no, that is not customary. Yes, these increased hours would cut in to their practice time.

Their lives, as a result, would look a lot like the other 98% of musicians who work long hours every day, while still finding enough time to practice. As someone who spent many years of my life as one of these working musicians, I would be happy to welcome them to the community. It’s likely that they would still make a lot more money than the rest of us.

New ownership models

And why not consider new ownership models for our major symphonies? Haven’t we grown tired of the cat and mouse games of Management vs. Musicians that exemplifies our orchestras?

Why not explore other models – like co-operatives or collectives? Symphony musicians have more than enough education, intelligence, and expertise to run their own organizations.

The union must also adapt

And what would happen to the union? The American Federation of Musicians is quickly losing its grasp on its last strongholds. The AFM desperately needs two things:

    1. Instead of constant brinksmanship and intimidation, the AFM needs to find new ways to incentivize businesses and members to use their services. The drop in AFM membership over the last 30 years is not a result of musician’s laziness or business’ greed (as it is often portrayed). The AFM’s lack of market penetration is a result of systemic problems in the union’s approach, and their near-complete irrelevence, to the modern musician industry. They are the ones that need find the solution.
    2. The AFM needs to attract young, educated and enthusiastic workers to fill its leadership positions. The current AFM management seems to be paralyzed by the expectations they formed during the music industry’s heyday (RIP 1940-2000) – which was, undoubtedly, an economic anomaly that will never repeat itself.

In conclusion

The major symphony orchestras in the United States are facing an increasingly dire financial situations – not just because of a decrease in consumer demand and a decade of economic recessions – but because of systemic, short-sighted and self-inflicted deficiencies in their current business models.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Symphonies deserve a permanent place in American culture, and if they can adapt to the modern music industry — using the suggestions offered above, or better ideas still to be found — it’s possible that they can turn the tide on their long decline.

24 Responses to Solving the Symphony Crisis

  1. For an excellent story of adaptation, how about the Met Opera’s “Live in HD” program? Or art museums with interactive online collections? These ideas make their products more accessible to fans worldwide, and can create more streams of revenue.

    Great article Dave, well thought out and cited.

  2. David says:

    “So, then, why are symphony musicians paid so much more than other musicians?”

    This question seems odd to me because you asked it after comparing the compensation of members of one of the best orchestras in the world to the average U.S. musician. How about… how much does the CSO make compared to U2?

    • Using 2010 stats for annual revenue:

      U2: $108,000,000
      CSO: $61,000,000

      Source: Forbes, CSO Annual report

    • Wait, I see what you’re saying. I misunderstood. You’re saying that the skills of orchestra musicians are so much greater, that they shouldn’t be so casually compared to an “average” U.S. musician (meaning, as “so-so” musician).

      Obviously that’s not what I was saying. “Average” in this context is not related to their skill level, it is the median average of all working musicians in the U.S. Some musicians make much more than that, some make much less. That’s how averages work. That number represents all musicians living in the United States – so this average actually includes musicians in the best U.S. orchestras.

      I still don’t totally understand the comparison to U2. But since you bring it up – U2 made $108 million on ticket sales in 2010. The CSO made $21 million in ticket sales. So I’d expect their salaries to be related to their revenue? I’m sure it is for U2, but the CSO’s operating expenses for that year were $61 million (they made up the rest with their endowment and other support).

      • The workload of a professional symphony musician is also much greater than the average US musician’s. Learn and perform new repertoire 39 weeks out of the year, plus whatever a summer season runs (6-8 weeks) – that’s completely different than a touring rock band playing the same songs, or pulling from a group of ~40 songs. Even if the work week is 20 hours, most workers would struggle if they had to do something new every week, and not have their routines or standard formulas to rely on.

        • Dave says:

          You make a good point. So keep the core members where they are and hire the per-service players to do the peripheral work. Or hire lay-people. Or throw out this idea altogether.

          But let’s at least talk about it. Your comment exemplifies a major problem I have with symphony musicians – they just refuse to change anything. Everything must remain exactly how it is, or it will destroy the artform.

          But that’s not how art works. And that’s not how any other artists are able to run their careers. We’ll never solve everything if the musician side of the table also says these two things:

          1) I need more money.
          2) I refuse to change anything.

          There is less money in the classical world and the entire musician industry has changed. These just aren’t options.

          I’m know I sound harsh, but I’m trying to get everyone to take their heads out of the sand. I want symphonies to survive, and that will take some thoughtful discussions among musicians (or the managements will do it for us – and we won’t like that outcome either).

  3. David says:

    Also, I don’t agree that symphony musicians have an abundance of time… the link you provided even says that the amount of work away from rehearsals and concerts add’s up to a full work week. Many orchestral musicians also hold teaching positions in addition to their symphony gig.

    • Yes – I’ve never understood why musicians could make $175k at their symphony job, and have enough time to hold professor positions (for another $50k maybe?) as well.

      Why not pay the musician the full amount – $225,000 – and have them teach the same lessons, lectures & master classes through the symphony organization (in the model I suggested above)? Obviously I haven’t thought out any of the details, but it’s a conversation worth having.

      And look – I’m working under the assumption that there is a problem that needs to be solved. I don’t want to see orchestras dissolve, I don’t want to see 10,000 ICSOM and ROPA musicians laid off and flooding the workforce. I want them to keep their jobs – I even want them to keep getting overpaid. Someone just has to find a way to make it sustainable. So let’s talk about it.

  4. MusicFan says:

    While you make some excellent points around the failing economics of symphony orchestras (the diminishing demand, etc), you go far astray here: “Symphony musicians have more than enough education, intelligence, and expertise to run their own organizations.” While they absolutely do have an abundance of musical education and skill, it simply takes a different skillset to run an orchestra or any other business, for-profit or non-profit. Musicians, for example, aren’t professional marketers. Nor are they skilled accountants, fundraisers or operations staff. There are business skillsets in the administration that directly function to maximize the revenue and minimize expenses…and contribute significantly to the stature and reach of the musicans as performers, which ultimately increases the concert attendance.
    The uncomfortable reality is that ticket sales (particularly subscriptions) are diminishing. Halls are not selling out. If they were, it wouldn’t be a problem to continue to increase salaries, based on demand. But you bring up the most important point: that the economics simply don’t support continued increases to musicians salaries without a matched increase in demand. And to all those who falsely believe the management makes so much more than the musicians, compare the average orchestra administration worker’s salary to the average musician. Yes, the ED makes more…but so does the concertmaster (look up the SFS Concertmaster’s salary). To your point, both sides must take the cold reality of financial sustainability into account when evaluating the budget. And the musicians should be out in the community and talking to the press, helping to promote the orchestra and the music, not striking, which further reduces what ticket revenue they do have…which pays the musicians salaries. Symbiosis is what will help these orgs collaboratively identify sustainable salaries and business models that will keep them afloat in an era of diminished demand.

    • I was just thinking about this as well. Musicians certainly shouldn’t be the ones answering the phones at the ticket office.

      But imagine a co-operative where the musicians own the orchestra and they hire the administrators to manage the business. Currently, it’s the opposite – the administrators hire the musicians – which I’ve never understood. I’m not saying the 2nd chair flute needs to keep the books, but I would like to see a change in the power dynamics of these organizations. It’s a conversation worth starting, at least.

  5. Joe Stone says:

    One thing I think is missing in a lot of the comments that I’ve seen about this subject is that I bet a larger part of the income of the orchestra comes from endowments, donations, etc., vs. ticket sales. I don’t think it’s the drop in ticket sales that are constraining their budgets as much as it is the drop in donations.

    If I am correct about this (and I might not be), then I doubt that other revenue streams will be large enough to make up for the lost donations. I could be wrong about this as well. Don’t get me wrong. Ideas about new ways to bring in money are good. I just think a lot may need to be looked at in order to balance the budget, including cutting costs, new revenue streams, and finding new large donors or getting current ones (corporations mostly) to increase what they give.

    Here’s another thought I just had. For some of David’s ideas, there will likely be some additional administrative costs. If symphonies become teaching centers, they’ll probably want someone to answer phones, set up schedules, etc. Will this affect the additional income significantly? I don’t know.

  6. Freda Johnson says:

    For another perspective on this conversation, please see this story “Orchestra musician: it’s not a cush job” Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/11wtiWA

  7. Brian P. says:

    I really love your idea of the multi-use, ‘interactive’ buildings. I think it speaks to what ills classical music the most. The EXclusive culture that binds classical music to its typical patrons is killing it. The cost of classical music, whether it be the concert tickets or even a mediocre education in this particular art, keeps more people out than in. We have so little music education in our schools, that even the most basic musical knowledge is a cultural niche.
    I really have nothing to add with your comments on the union, as that is a hot topic out here in L.A. at present.
    There are, however, a few perspectives with which I take issue.

    “Americans’ disinterest in classical music is not sign of decline in our culture or an anti-intellectual climate. ”
    Perhaps not a decline in culture, but most certainly an anti-intellectual climate. My gosh, two-dimensional thinking is a hallmark of success in our society. This may or may not have anything to do with lack of interest in classical music, so it’s going beyond this scope of argument, but the climate certainly exists. How much more evidence do we need when intellectuals continually posit of this absence, while those who are (usually) non-intellectuals deny it? If you have a room filled with people who cannot see the color blue, how would they know if it’s gone (eliminating scientific semantics)?

    “Putting aside the overt classism that an argument like that requires, the supporting evidence is wearing thin. Yes, there was a time when classical musicians were subject to a duration and expense of training that far exceeded that of non-classical musicians – but that is no longer true. Jazz musicians and pop musicians now begin their formal training at an early age and study at the same over-priced colleges and conservatories as classical musicians.”
    Jazz is really in the same category as classical these days, and has been for some time (training wise). But going to over-priced colleges has nothing to do with the content of the material, or training. The supporting evidence is not wearing thin. Think: depth of interpretive considerations.

    “They have an abundance of time. Despite musician’s legitimate needs for outside-of-work practice time, most major orchestras take summers off and spend only 20 hours a week at work.”
    This is a logical fallacy, and more of a salesman’s pitch, sorry. Those 20 hours simply mean time on the stage, rehearsing and performing. They do not account for the hours upon hours, upon hours…of material study, practicing, and other daily routines these performers must discipline themselves in accomplishing.

    I do agree with that they need to adapt. Whether there are simply too many major orchestras currently operating, or pay should be adjusted, time can only tell. I think lack of inter-communication, and silent circles is hurting the solutions.

  8. ariel says:

    When I read hours upon hours upon hours of practice I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but the daily
    routines they must discipline themselves to … tilted the response to laugh . The disinterest in what is
    termed “classical ” music is not a decline in American culture nor an anti-intellectual climate, it is
    a disinterest to a type of music that does not connect “musically “to a very large public . To claim
    that the symphony of to-day plays a part in the social structure (except for the very limited audience
    that lives in the past ) of a city is to pretend times have not changed , they have, and the symphony
    orchestra of our parents and grand parents has become a museum piece playing the same old
    100 odd standard works ad nauseam – till even the most faithful quit attending concerts . How
    many Beethoven evenings can one attend without the listener thinking “I give up , I’ll
    confess to anything !!” Marketing is not the answer. The SF Symphony should be allowed to “sink”
    from its own pretentious weight – it serves no purpose except for the few who seem unwilling to
    meet the pay demands of the assembly line players who think themselves creative artists .

    • Michael says:

      ariel, you are misinformed or have been listening to the wrong orchestras if you think we play only 100 or so standard works ad nauseam. In my orchestra, it was remarkable when, recently, we performed a program of entirely 19th-century Romantic works. They were not, certainly, all top-100, but it was notable that there was nothing from the past century represented. We usually play at least a dozen pieces each season written within the past thirty years.

      I’m sorry you don’t like orchestral music. Maybe you should reassess what it is before issuing such blanket condemnations.

    • Daniel Sneiderman says:

      I confess I have never been to a performance by a top-tier orchestra. All of the classical concerts I have attended have been school related.

      While I don’t agree that the same 100 pieces are played like an FM radio playlist, I do think there needs to be a bit more variety. (Please! Stop beating me over the head with Mozart and Bach!)

      But that’s another argument entirely.

  9. Solving the relevance question is going to involve accepting people and popular culture to some extent for who and what they are. If we can get past our own repugnance-factor, they will get past theirs. Remaining academic and traditional is fine in the right places but honoring the flip side of the coin (entertainment) with emotion and “two-dimensional” appeal will be what contextualizes (makes it REAL) for curious music lovers. It is up to us musicians to explain simply what makes it classical (thank the ancient Greeks), explain the inner game (dramatic tension and release) and give a quick and broad historic demonstration in an intimate and casual settings (schools, churches, bars, cafes, houses). Classical Revolution has enabled me to experiment with all these in bars, plus with amplification so folk can have a good time and take it in at their own pace (gemutlich). If we can serve the community with humility and humor, personalities as well as pertinent information, such as what we get out of playing 250 year old music, this will be a great way to burst popular stigmas against classical. Give it a try… or read about my experiences at my website!

  10. ariel says:

    The SF orchestra will come to some agreeable face saving terms -they are not all fools ,knowing
    that food has to be put on the table and the competition for whatever jobs are out there in the
    symphony world is intense . One can just imagine all the SF orchestra string players auditioning for
    a low paying orchestral job .. they know that whatever salary they now get is better than job hunting
    or worse relocating to some dreary second rate town . They’ll come to terms . Michael, I
    have been deeply involved in the symphony orchestra world for many years and am quite aware
    of the foibles ,the myths and truths surrounding that world . Knowing all this does not
    preclude one from “not liking” the symphony but it does alert one to the facts of how the symphony orchestra has come to be regarded in the 21st. C.- in how the audience regards symphony orchestras
    and how the orchestra sees themselves .To a small group of people the orchestra is an essential part of a good life- to a majority the symphony means little or nothing and the deference to the
    mythological high art standing the symphony once had is fast disappearing year by year . Extra money
    had allowed many people to play mini patron for whatever social standing they got from the pose
    and now that the money is no more the mini patron game is no more ,that the box office cannot sustain the
    orchestra as it is should tell the symphony players just how low they are on the social scale
    of necessity to the majority of people .The question to be asked is – How is it that in tough economic
    times people while cutting back expenses always have a little money for some form
    of diversion but never enough to support the symphony orchestra that supposedly is essential
    to the good life “. I know many former mini patrons who still enjoy the good life but alas
    the symphony orchestra is not part of that good life , it seems to no longer “speaks ” to them
    with the same old boring programmes , or worse ” that modern noise.” The answer is obvious .

  11. Lee Levin says:

    I personally would like to thank David for opening up this discussion at all. I am a professional studio musician (Pop/Rock) who mostly listens to classical music when not working. I used to be on the board of directors for the AFM local 655, as well as a national board member for the RMA (Recording Musicians Association). I had quit the union a few years back in disgust at the inability for the union to adapt effectively to a new era of musicians and technology while they spent my dues hob-knobbing with politicians in DC. (Thankfully, the AFM has made some positive leadership changes recently) As I read through David’s article and comments, it’s obvious that there is plenty of blame to go around. Whether it’s musicians who are unwilling to bend, poor management, lower endowments/patrons, poor economic cycles, they have all played a part.

    For me, there has also been a cultural dumbing down in our early education. When I grew up, we had band in elementary school. Now, my son is lucky to find a general music class at all, let alone one where the kids pick up an instrument. As a society, we reap what we sow, and we have churned out a generation or two of children who are only “well rounded” from the lack of physical education we have managed to cut out as well. We certainly can’t continue to rely on ticket sales or patrons when those who even know who Brahms was are dying off with no replacements. I am not advocating for more money is schools because I believe there is plenty as it is. It has been mismanaged worse than the orchestras themselves. The only difference being that the orchestras can’t tax the general public to make up the shortfall. The free market is a wonderful thing, but it can’t exist with unions or governments running wild telling us all what is important or not. If the majority of orchestras go the way of the elevator operator, so be it. I like David’s idea of a co-op orchestra where the musicians have a vested interest in it’s survival. Nothing will ever replace the sheer beauty and power of a live orchestra, and once we educate enough people who understand that, and reject those who aren’t looking out for the art, we will find the balance that we all seek.

  12. I like the notion of a multi-use facility. There is also a need for the symphonies to get out of their halls, and perform in unusual settings. The Phoenix Symphony, for example, at one time played on Indian reservations! Why not Wynton Marsalis and the symphony on the streets of Harlem, or with rappers at the Watts Towers.
    As for the union, although there is some accuracy in David’s charges, part of the membership loss has to do with musicians in clubs being regarded by the courts as independent contractors., not employees. Since many more musicians play in clubs than on recordings, the union basically was left outside its core constituency, the bar or club where most musicians play. Although it’s true that the LA-NYC-Chicago wages look pretty good, the ROPA orchestras pay poorly, and have short seasons. Most of the musicians who are in those ensembles of necessity have to work other jobs, just as local rock musicians do.
    I don’t see comparing symphony musicians with rock, hip hop or country stars as being a useful comparison. It’s a very different game,and the training involved is more than learning to read notes and follow a conductor. Not, as Seinfeld would say, that there is anything wrong with that.

  13. ariel says:

    One cannot argue against the observations presented by Mr.Hahn except that one must keep in mind
    where the musician is coming from . Most musicians are in the field because of many influences , parents,the love of music , fame , money etc .- nearly all violinists while students aim for the
    great career as the next Jascha and for whatever reasons must settle to being assembly line players
    with teaching on the side or whatever else it takes to put food on the table– the same for the rest of
    the symphony musicians whose aim is to play better than any rival and thus land a good paying
    orchestra job hopefully for decades , unless a better opportunity ($) comes along . This is all
    quite normal in the scheme of things, except that when an art is used solely to make a living it becomes
    a commodity,enjoyed in good times and dispensed with in bad times while breeding a strange class of
    self promoters . The co-op orchestra in the US may very well be the orchestra of the future as is now the well known London group that manages their own concerts and recordings .Mr. Levin makes strong points on the dumbing down of music education in our schools but has to bear in mind that
    our schools reflect our society. When you see trucks carting off grand pianos to the city dump you
    know the world has changed. One also has to bear in mind that once upon a time the young were
    introduced to playing “some” sort of musical instrument to being “well rounded “,now the
    well rounded youngster plays computer games.

  14. Johann Nepomuk Hummel says:

    The decline in large contributions by the wealthy were directly caused by the Clinton tax increases which took away the destructibility for charitable contributions for such contributors. This change, which was thought to be only temporary, has now been made permanent with the Obama increases of this year. Expect a further decline in such support in years to come.

  15. Dave says:

    “Americans’ disinterest in classical music is not sign of decline in our culture”
    That seems to me to be one instance. There are many others where creativity isn’t really being accepted or even wanted.

  16. Mickey says:

    Here in San Luis Obispo, CA the Symphony does great! They are a big part of the community and appeal to everyone from Hippy to Highbrow. Many of the Musicians who perform with the Symphony also perform with local Jazz, Pop, Rock, Country, Folk and Ethnic Music groups. The Symphony puts on regular Classical performances that are very interesting. Along with Pops concerts, guest Artists, local and regional acts that utilize the Symphony by bringing with them full blown Orchestral accompaniments to their own Music. Michael Nowak is the Conductor and comes up with some really innovative and fun ideas for the Symphony. I have not heard of many complaints from Orchestra members. Maybe they realize that this Symphony is a great gig.

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