Opinion Column: Fort Wayne Philharmonic management hits a wrong chord


By Faith Allison

At a time when the world needs music the most, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic management has been out of tune with the needs of their musicians. 

Throughout Fort Wayne, large groups of performers have adapted to the strict mandates that guide large group gatherings. Across the country, many large orchestras have transitioned to virtual performance options, or were able to resume live concerts in a way that is safe for the audience and musicians alike. I am the principal trumpet player for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s Youth Symphony Orchestra and we are proof that music can safely continue in Northeast Indiana when the people in charge make an effort. 

Since August of 2020, the Philharmonic musicians have been furloughed without pay while the conducting staff and many of the Philharmonic administrators have continued to receive their salaries. 

The administration is trying without success to bully their employees into settling for unfair working conditions, using a global pandemic to justify betraying their loyal performers.

The musicians continue to turn down offers from the administration that would do away with 75% of the contracted orchestra, permanently reducing the size of the orchestra, which is not good for either party. 

This is a sad way to treat people who play a significant role in nourishing the vibrant and artistic culture that has been carefully cultivated in Fort Wayne. 

I am disappointed and irritated. The current proposal made by the administration of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic would reduce the size of the full-time orchestra, replacing loyal musicians with part-time replacements. Fort Wayne deserves to have a professional orchestra with a large core of longstanding musicians who are established in our community.

The ensemble of professionals that makes up the current musician membership is a diverse group of parents, friends, neighbors and cultural contributors. Most importantly, they are educators who proliferate a love for the arts within the youth they influence. 

I can sympathize with the complex financial strategies that surely come with managing an orchestra as large as ours, but when hardships present themselves, the musicians should be the last to suffer. 

I have been safely rehearsing with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s Youth Symphony Orchestra since late September 2020 and we have already performed on live television. Why aren’t the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Musicians allowed to do the same?

Before these events unfolded, my plan was to pursue a career as a professional musician, but witnessing these mistreatments has pointed me away from the music industry and toward a career that will value the work I do. The Fort Wayne Philharmonic consistently touts their education outreach programs, but I hope they understand the discouraging message they are sending to youth musicians in Northeast Indiana. 

I fully plan to continue my support for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, but I pledge my allegiance to the performers who use their talent to serve our community and not the administration which clearly has other motives. 

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