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Tier Ranking System for American Orchestras



 
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trumpet56
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 6:47 pm    Post subject: Tier Ranking System for American Orchestras Reply with quote

There has been an interesting article about the retirement of the Principal Trumpet George Vosburgh. In it stated one of his reasons for retiring was to quote him. "I never signed up to play in a second-tier orchestra". I was not aware the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was rated as a first tier Orchestra.I understood that only the "big five" (Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Boston ) were the top or first tier. Maybe my information is out of date.? I would appreciate if anybody here on TH knows if there is an official rating system and what it is based on e.g. salary etc?
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trumpetchad
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 2:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Tier Ranking System for American Orchestras Reply with quote

trumpet56 wrote:
There has been an interesting article about the retirement of the Principal Trumpet George Vosburgh. In it stated one of his reasons for retiring was to quote him. "I never signed up to play in a second-tier orchestra". I was not aware the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was rated as a first tier Orchestra.I understood that only the "big five" (Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Boston ) were the top or first tier. Maybe my information is out of date.? I would appreciate if anybody here on TH knows if there is an official rating system and what it is based on e.g. salary etc?


There is no official rating system.

The tier system George referred to has more to do with salary rank among peer orchestras than anything else. Not to speak for him, but I believe George would say that the "first tier" of orchestras would include those orchestras in the top ten in terms of salary rank. It's (very) generally considered, at least in years past, that if your orchestra is in that top ten of orchestras, the likelihood of retention of top-level musicians increases. This is not always the case and is not the only factor, but it is one of the biggest factors.

Not to get into it too much detail, but last fall, the PSO had a work stoppage which ended in major concessions by the musicians in many ways. In short, the concessions took us (the PSO) out of the top ten of salary rank, which, by my rubric above, would mean that the chances of our orchestra becoming a stepping-stone orchestra instead of a destination orchestra increase dramatically.

At one time, in the not too distant past, the Pittsburgh Symphony endowment value was the highest or very close to the highest of all major orchestras in the USA. I could say several paragraphs of how the board and leadership team of the PSO, in the last few decades, completely dropped the ball (to put it mildly) when it came to supporting and sustaining the orchestra. Their complacency and lack of effort (except for a precious few) directly resulted in what happened last fall.

Anyone who is a fan or supporter of the PSO ought to be livid that these circumstances that led to the work stoppage were at the very least a small contributing factor to George's (and others') decision to retire and/or resign or move to another orchestra -- and yes, this has already happened. A real shame.

Hope this helps.
TC
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JayV
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's pretty difficult to "rank" an ensemble according to artistic vision or achievement. However, it's possible to "rank" orchestras by pay. Of course, one must remember that a six figure salary in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, or Cleveland goes much further than the same pay in LA, DC, San Francisco, NYC, or Boston.

A decent house close to Boston is going to be $500,000. The same house in NYC is going to be $750,000. The same house in Pittsburgh or Cleveland is going to be $250,000.

Accounting for cost of living, I'd say Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati are nearer the top in terms of purchasing power. One of those cities has clearly superior NFL and NHL teams though.

http://www.pennlive.com/life/2016/10/highest_paid_orchestras.html
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trpthrld
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Tier Ranking System for American Orchestras Reply with quote

trumpetchad wrote:
...a stepping-stone orchestra instead of a destination orchestra...


Outstanding description / explanation of why players move to different orchestras.
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trumpetchad
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JayV wrote:
...one must remember that a six figure salary in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, or Cleveland goes much further than the same pay in LA, DC, San Francisco, NYC, or Boston.

A decent house close to Boston is going to be $500,000. The same house in NYC is going to be $750,000. The same house in Pittsburgh or Cleveland is going to be $250,000.


Not to single you out, but you sound like you work for our management!

The reaction I would have to that is that nobody auditions for the Pittsburgh Symphony because the houses are cheap and the cost of living is low. They audition for the PSO and move to Pittsburgh because the orchestra is an outstanding ensemble. The houses being cheap has little to do with anyone's decision to practice for and win the audition, let me assure you.

Not many people will agree to take a pay cut of several tens of thousands of dollars (or more) because some survey or website tells them Pittsburgh is just a cheap place to move to and raise a family. To my knowledge, we don't get that many, if any, applicants from orchestras that are ranked even slightly higher than we are in terms of salary, even IF those cities from which they come from are deemed more expensive places to live.

TC
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gstump
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of my jobs was to approve Detroit Symphony Audition Ads before management could send the ad to the International Musicians Magazine.

Quality of life can be an indirect variable to salary. So DSO management always included the salary for each position in the ad.

For us parity based on the ICSOM wage charts was important not the cost of a house.

Around 12 years ago management stopped including salaries in the ads so I guess Detroit "arrived" as a City or an orchestra, (pre-strike).

It is always sad when artists leave after cuts happen. We sure saw that here.

Cheers,

Gordon Stump
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trumpet.sanity
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trumpetchad wrote:
JayV wrote:
...one must remember that a six figure salary in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, or Cleveland goes much further than the same pay in LA, DC, San Francisco, NYC, or Boston.

A decent house close to Boston is going to be $500,000. The same house in NYC is going to be $750,000. The same house in Pittsburgh or Cleveland is going to be $250,000.


Not to single you out, but you sound like you work for our management!

The reaction I would have to that is that nobody auditions for the Pittsburgh Symphony because the houses are cheap and the cost of living is low. They audition for the PSO and move to Pittsburgh because the orchestra is an outstanding ensemble. The houses being cheap has little to do with anyone's decision to practice for and win the audition, let me assure you.

Not many people will agree to take a pay cut of several tens of thousands of dollars (or more) because some survey or website tells them Pittsburgh is just a cheap place to move to and raise a family. To my knowledge, we don't get that many, if any, applicants from orchestras that are ranked even slightly higher than we are in terms of salary, even IF those cities from which they come from are deemed more expensive places to live.

TC


I think people would want to take the job in Pittsburgh just for Primanti Brothers sandwiches!!!

Yinz guys sure know how to eat up air!!

** here's a list of some great Pittsburgh phrases. They clearly have there own language as well as excellent Italian, German, and Polish food!!


http://www.pittsburghese.com/glossary.ep.html?type=phrases
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JayV
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trumpetchad wrote:
Not to single you out, but you sound like you work for our management!

The reaction I would have to that is that nobody auditions for the Pittsburgh Symphony because the houses are cheap and the cost of living is low. They audition for the PSO and move to Pittsburgh because the orchestra is an outstanding ensemble. The houses being cheap has little to do with anyone's decision to practice for and win the audition, let me assure you.

Not many people will agree to take a pay cut of several tens of thousands of dollars (or more) because some survey or website tells them Pittsburgh is just a cheap place to move to and raise a family. To my knowledge, we don't get that many, if any, applicants from orchestras that are ranked even slightly higher than we are in terms of salary, even IF those cities from which they come from are deemed more expensive places to live.

TC


I'm not going to argue with you Chad. You obviously know a lot more about what's going on than I do. I think your entire family plays the trumpet wonderfully. I've hired both your dad and your brother to play various gigs with me. You guys are all mind-blowingly talented. And, I think the PSO is a world-class ensemble, not "second rate." I support you guys 100%.

Different things matter to different people. I personally know and have played with two trumpet players who left higher-paying principal positions to play section with an orchestra that does more touring or plays better rep, or has lower costs of living. I also know players who have left prestigious, high-paying section jobs to play principal with smaller orchestras in order to be in the driver's seat. There are so few jobs, and there is so little volatility, that it is difficult to determine exactly what will happen, or how people make decisions. People have kids in school, they have family members to consider, they have personality conflicts with other members of the ensemble, they don't like certain conductors, etc.

Will anyone be able to replace George? No. He is 100% unique. No one plays, or even CAN play like that. I've never seen anything like it. Lots of people talk crap, but I very much doubt the critics can play with anywhere near the endurance, power, and sheer force that guy has put out every day, day in and day out, for decades.

To your last point, I literally work every day with people who take pay cuts to move to Pittsburgh. Uber, Google, Amazon, the hospitals, and universities are all attracting people from the coasts. Our housing/energy/transportation costs are so much lower, some people actually do take significant pay cuts to move here. As a business owner, I understand where management is coming from. As a musician, I understand where the musicians are coming from. It's a rough problem!!
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veery715
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's really great when one can find articulate, respectful disagreement on this forum. Thanks, fellas! It's truly fascinating insight into the state of the American orchestra 2017.
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TrptSingrAB
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So does anybody think Vosburg might go for Chitown, you know, being that Chris left for NY and also that Vosburg came to Pitt from the CSO. Of all the players, I've often felt that Vosburg should've stepped in after Herseth fully retired. JMOP
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

trumpetchad wrote:

Not to single you out, but you sound like you work for our management!

The reaction I would have to that is that nobody auditions for the Pittsburgh Symphony because the houses are cheap and the cost of living is low. They audition for the PSO and move to Pittsburgh because the orchestra is an outstanding ensemble. The houses being cheap has little to do with anyone's decision to practice for and win the audition, let me assure you.


Unfortunately, people DO take the cost of living into account when considering their place of employment. When the shoe is on the other foot - like it is where I live down under, the crazy price of housing is a strong determiner of if you want to work in a certain place.

Our median house price for the city is just over $1.1 million. Locally to where I live and work, the average is about $1.6. (big place up the street just sold for $8+) Add a commute of 90 minutes a day (or more) to get the housing cost down to a manageable amount, and that makes working in some places almost impossible from a work/life balance perspective.

And guess what OUR management say, if we push for higher wages due to the cost of housing, transport, fuel, etc? 'You choose to work here, suck it up or go elsewhere.' And it would be the main reason to cut pay if you took on a position at our outdoor ed centre, which is located in a rural community and that same $1.1 can buy you 50 acres and 8 bedroom house with a 15 minute commute!

But at the end of the day, the bottom line: as we need to eat and sleep, we will live where we have a gig and MAKE it work, unless we are in a position to have a choice. Then you can pick your moment to tell you employer to use their jumper as a storage device and walk.

Pity is, most do not have this luxury.

cheers

Andy
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trumpet56
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having started this thread in the meantime I have done some research into the quality of this ensemble. My conclusion is this Orchestra is world class and thoroughly deserving of a 1st Tier ranking like Mr Vosburgh has stated. If you want a treat go to You Tube and listen to the Berlin performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony 6. This is a great performance of this work with plenty of fireworks and intensity.
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LaTrompeta
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy Del wrote:
trumpetchad wrote:

Not to single you out, but you sound like you work for our management!

The reaction I would have to that is that nobody auditions for the Pittsburgh Symphony because the houses are cheap and the cost of living is low. They audition for the PSO and move to Pittsburgh because the orchestra is an outstanding ensemble. The houses being cheap has little to do with anyone's decision to practice for and win the audition, let me assure you.


Unfortunately, people DO take the cost of living into account when considering their place of employment. When the shoe is on the other foot - like it is where I live down under, the crazy price of housing is a strong determiner of if you want to work in a certain place.

Our median house price for the city is just over $1.1 million. Locally to where I live and work, the average is about $1.6. (big place up the street just sold for $8+) Add a commute of 90 minutes a day (or more) to get the housing cost down to a manageable amount, and that makes working in some places almost impossible from a work/life balance perspective.

And guess what OUR management say, if we push for higher wages due to the cost of housing, transport, fuel, etc? 'You choose to work here, suck it up or go elsewhere.' And it would be the main reason to cut pay if you took on a position at our outdoor ed centre, which is located in a rural community and that same $1.1 can buy you 50 acres and 8 bedroom house with a 15 minute commute!

But at the end of the day, the bottom line: as we need to eat and sleep, we will live where we have a gig and MAKE it work, unless we are in a position to have a choice. Then you can pick your moment to tell you employer to use their jumper as a storage device and walk.

Pity is, most do not have this luxury.

cheers

Andy


Ouch. I don't live in Texas, but I know that you can buy several acres (hectares?) and a nice home for around $300k US near Denton. I have considered moving there just because of how affordable everything is.
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