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June 2014
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Andrew Patner on Arts and Culture

Critic's Choice: The Beethoven Festival Problem

This year’s Beethoven Festival, scheduled to take place in September, is in trouble.  Andrew outlines its problems, and points to solutions in this week’s Critic’s Choice.

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10 Responses to “The Beethoven Festival Problem”

  1. Anastasia Royal says:

    Thanks, Andrew for focusing on the International Beethoven Project (IBP). I was very impressed with all the events I attended last year. I have seen Mr.Lepauw’s response online and feel he has been transparent and wholly admirable. Did you interview him before speaking out?

    I think the idea of not continuing IBP this year would be ill-advised for many reasons, not the least of which is that it would make it even more difficult to re-pay any musicians still owed money.

    I also take deep exception to your comment about dreams having to be reality-based. If that were the case, very little noble architecture, great art, or fabulous music would exist.

    Brave ideas need support –they not perfect and grow artistically and financially in the doing of them. As a musician, I support this festival and the opportunities and enjoyment it has provided for so many. Chicago is richer for it.

    • Consuelo Skosey says:

      An ‘opportunity’ to play does not bring ‘enjoyment’ to the musician if he/she is unable to meet their financial obligations.

    • Hi, Anastasia! I only just saw this thread of comments. Thank you all for writing. I think that the the responses that your Comment has generated articulate many of the main points here. When you have an agreement with your students for paying you for piano lessons — not when you meet someone at a recital or an existing student brings a student to one of her lessons with you and you offer a free demonstration lesson — at what point after the student makes no payments do you suspend your lessons with that student until she or he gets things straightened out? If I have an emergency with a pet and I take the pet to your sister for treatment may I just say afterward, “Thank you! I may or may not pay you later. But I will definitely bring my other pets here for treatment!” Does she treat Oprah Winfrey’s pets for free? Or does she charge her at least a little something? Did people who picked up your novel in a bookshop have to pay if they warned it take it home, or could they just take it home and pay some other time, if at all?

      I absolutely agree with you about great dreams. What I meant by giving them a base in reality is this: If I want to build a visionary work of architecture, I have to find a way to pay for the materials and to pay the builders, artisans, and craftsmen who achieve it with me. If I dream of owning a particular, existing beautiful house, I have to buy or rent it in order to live in it. I can’t just walk in, pour a few glasses of wine from the cabinet, and say to a group of smiling friends, “How do you like my beautiful home? It’s my dream house!”

      Thanks again.

  2. Hello Mr. Patner,
    Paul Crisanti, photographer who covered the 9 days of IBF 2013.
    I did this for free to support the arts (so I am not owed anything) but have been hearing from musicians involved that agreements weren’t being honored which saddens me. It is already such a struggle to commit to music that when promises are made, they should find a way to make good on them. During the 9 days I saw, heard and photographed most of the performers and their excellence deserves compensation. Just letting you know I heard and appreciate you bringing this out in the open.
    If you need any photos of the 2013 event I will be happy to send you links to my 4 web galleries of images.
    I hope this is resolved soon. Thank you!
    ~p
    ps
    If you want to discuss anything or know of music organizations, groups or performers needing visual support, I would be happy to offer them my skills (for free of course). 312-403-3421

  3. Joseph Awad, MD says:

    Dreams should not be built at another’s expense. If the composers and musicians had volunteered to be part of the “dream” with an understanding that compensation may have been limited or nil it would be fine, but this is simply criminal. More so to engage a completely new set of “suckers”. PT Barnum would be proud of these promoters.

  4. john elmquist says:

    There is no disputing that the promise was made to not proceed with 2014 until 2013 obligations had been met. This promise was broken and it doesn’t matter what the rationale was. The making of that promise clearly demonstrates that Mr. Lepauw knew his credibility was on the line and that there was a right way forward and a wrong way forward, and now he has created a situation where even when the 2013 obligations are met, as they must be, it will not be enough to repair his reputation. Unfortunately, it is now left to the musicians scheduled for 2014 to opt out.

  5. Mr. LePauw!

    When did you change your name to Anastasia?

    Best regards…

  6. derek says:

    @anastasia
    I guess none of us have rent to pay, taxes to be done, health insurance to keep current, instrument costs (bow rehairs, strings, reeds), families, etc.

    to be strung along for a year regarding payment is something you see by no other business or trade. They would be sued to high heaven and back. Only in the underground economy does this happen and the beethoven festival is definitely not part of the underground economy. I have personally done many projects that were not paid or paid poorly or where payment was reliant on an if/when scenario. They have all been upfront about that and after some consideration, I signed up. Some of those projects/ensembles after sometimes years of blood, toil, tears and sweat have established themselves and are now organized, have managers, insurance, and pay. As musicians we understand that that is what it takes but getting screwed out of money by an established and well known organization is completely unacceptable.

    I guess we should just do this out of the goodness of our hearts and oh, right, musicians dont need food to live.

  7. […] don’t love it, of course, but I usually have to shrug and say, “yeah, okay, that’s fair.”), speaks out on his WFMT blog and is proving to be a powerful voice for these unpaid musicians—he speaks, and people notice. […]

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