A gut-wrenching thing is happening to the Atlanta Symphony.
And I’m not talking about the second musician lockout in two years, that looks set to deprive the Southeastern United States of great orchestral music for months, if not years, to come.
No, I’m talking about the fact that Atlanta Symphony CEO Dr. Stanley Romanstein PHD is being forced to endure people saying negative things about him on the Atlanta Symphony’s Facebook page…simply because he took home obscene bonuses in the years before the first lockout started.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up a couple of days.
On midnight of the night of September 6-7, the musicians’ contract expired.
On September 8 came an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra status update:
We really enjoyed having Joshua Bell in Symphony Hall in May.
As my friend and fellow symphonic rabble rouser Amy Adams observed: “That is indeed a wonderful thing to share from months ago. ANY OTHER MAJOR NEWS TO SHARE?”
And then, because apparently this entire awkward situation was not quite uncomfortable enough, on September 9, the ASO updated:
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has released an all-new, all-Vaughan Williams recording featuring your Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and ASO Chorus! The full album is now on sale and available for download on iTunes and for purchase on Amazon.
Really? You’re refusing to acknowledge your lockout while simultaneously hawking a disc with repertoire including the Dona Nobis Pacem (“Grant us peace”…) cantata…and…The Lark Ascending?
Not surprisingly, the management’s obliviousness to the second (SECOND!) (SECOND!) lockout kinda pissed music-lovers off, especially after it became public knowledge that their CEO and board subscribes to the Michael Henson Bonus Philosophy (TM).
Unfortunately, the ASO (apparently) didn’t know that Facebook has recently developed a groundbreaking new feature called a “comment section.” And people were, shockingly, using it. And people (for some reason) were pissed! So, on September 10, the ASO’s Facebook page had no choice but to tell its loudmouth online music lovers to SHUT THE **** UP ALREADY, in a long melodramatic statement that would be at home in the mouth of a provocative playground bully who has finally been slapped by one of his younger smaller nerdier classmates and is running to the playground monitor To Tell.
So get your tissue box ready! The true victims of the lockout are about to tell their side of the story… I’ll bring out the world’s smallest violin and serenade you.
As many of you know, we are currently in the midst of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement with our musicians union.
Hmm. My BS detector is beeping. Because here the musicians wrote, “As of midnight September 7th, 2014, ASO President and CEO Stanley Romanstein had refused all requests to meet with the Musicians during the final hours before the 2012-2014 CBA expired,” and I have no reason to not believe them.
Maybe the ASO meant to say “we are in the midst of a siege meant to shatter our musicians’ will and spirits.” Curse you, Autocorrect!
The ASO management team is committed to working toward a resolution that will ensure that Atlanta’s vibrant classical music community can thrive for decades to come.
Still not sure how you get from “Stanley Romanstein taking home massive bonuses and ‘retain[ing] the ultimate authority to determine complement‘ while simultaneously driving away great musicians and scaring off prospective candidates” to “Atlanta’s vibrant classical music community [thriving] for decades to come,” but…
I guess the equation looks something like:
Executive bonuses + ???? = Thriving!
Unfortunately the current labor situation
It’s not a lockout, guys. It’s A Situation.
has made this page a target for unrelenting personal attacks on our management team and staff
OMG! Noooo! Anything but UNRELENTING! PERSONAL! ATTACKS! on FACEBOOK!
with a blatant disregard for the facts.
WITH! A! BLATANT! DISREGARD! FOR! FACTS!!!??? *GASP*
For SHAME, Atlanta music lovers! FOR SHAME. How dare you express thoughts, or….or opinions? Why don’t you want tens of thousands of your hard-earned donated dollars going to executive bonuses instead of musician compensation? What has gotten into you? All the ASO has done is locked out musicians twice in two years; that’s all; it’s not that big of a deal; why is everyone so upset? Would everyone just SIT DOWN AND CALM DOWN????
Turning the snarkometer down a notch, after this status was posted, I reread all that had been written, and honestly? I was probably the rudest person there. (oops) But I wasn’t talking about Romanstein or the staff of the ASO; I was talking about Michael Henson. I called him a “failed outcast pariah ex-Minnesota Orchestra CEO” whose approach to arts management is “fiscally and morally BANKRUPT.” And I’m pretty sure that was the worst thing said about anyone on these threads. Lest you doubt me, judge for yourself; at the end of this entry, I’m posting screenshots of the two status updates that spurred the ASO’s sputtery Facebook sadz.
While we have tried to perpetuate a respectful dialogue about the issues we are working to resolve,
Woah woah wait – when did the dialogue start? Last I heard we were talking about Josh Bell and Vaughan Williams CDs…
we will not let our Facebook Page become a site for hateful language, personal attacks and misinformation.
Oh, okay. Let me write that down quick so I have this for future reference…
Protesting obscene CEO bonuses = “hateful language”
Protesting obscene CEO bonuses = “personal attacks”
Mentioning obscene CEO bonuses = “misinformation”
Okay. I think I got it. *thumbs up*
Per our Terms of Engagement, which can be found in the “About” section on this page, we are committed to creating a community that encourages self-expression and mirrors the values of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, including respect for the rights, dignity and property of others. As a result of recent posts and comments, we feel it is in our Facebook community’s best interest to disable posting and commenting at this time. We hope to soon return to an open and courteous dialogue with our Facebook community members who wish to express their thoughts and feelings with respect and decorum.
Let’s take that paragraph a sentence at a time…
Per our Terms of Engagement, which can be found in the “About” section on this page, we are committed to creating a community that encourages self-expression
Self-expression, just…minus the self-expression…I guess…?
and mirrors the values of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Who besides Satan himself wants to mirror the value of an organization that locks out its employees twice in two years?
including respect for the rights, dignity and property of others.
Whose rights? Dr. Stanley Romanstein, PHD’s right to bonuses? Dr. Stanley Romanstein PHD’s right to dignity? Dr. Stanley Romanstein PHD’s property? I’d like to remind everyone, it’s not his property being disrespected right now. It’s the musicians’ property, and Atlanta’s property, in the form of that city’s world-renowned symphony orchestra.
As a result of recent posts and comments, we feel it is in our Facebook community’s best interest to disable posting and commenting at this time.
Correction: “it is in Dr. Stanley Romanstein PHD’s best interest to disable posting and commenting at this time”
We hope to soon return to an open and courteous dialogue with our Facebook community members who wish to express their thoughts and feelings with respect and decorum.
Decorum? What the hell? What do you want music-lovers to do? Sit around with mint juleps in our petticoats and wave fans in the heat and say, “I do declare, this lockout is unfortunate…” Why should anyone in their right minds react with decorum to a lockout that threatens the quality, integrity, and size of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra? Don’t react with decorum, Atlanta. React with anger and action. This is your symphony orchestra these people are hacking away at!
Please stay informed on negotiations and follow our progress at http://www.atlantasymphony.org/en/2014musiciantalks.aspx.
I…I can’t. I feel too bad for the fish in the barrel. Don’t make me shoot anymore. Please. The poor fish.
Thank you for understanding.
Actually I don’t but I’m kinda getting the vibe you don’t care what I think, soooo.
To sum: the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra lit a fire and is now complaining that it’s too hot.
Good luck with this PR approach, ASO!
If you want to see the comments the ASO had such problems with – the comments that disregarded facts and attacked ASO staff so freely – here they are in all their shockingness…