[Dixielandjazz] The Changing Music Business:

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Jan 5 08:58:35 PST 2005

Long, not particularly OKOM. However a testament to the changing music
business and what must be done to survive within it.

Bottom Line? Read the last two paragraphs if nothing else. They do indeed
apply to OKOM.

Steve Barbone

January 5, 2005 - By DANIEL J. WAKIN - NY TIMES

A Different Tune Is Being Played at a Venerable Music Camp

Dozens of dismissals and structural changes at the famed and tradition-bound
Interlochen music camp in Michigan have roiled the ranks of alumni and
former teachers, with some people promising to withhold donations and keep
the camp out of their wills.

Interlochen's administrators say the reaction, including letters to the
board and angry chatter on an alumni Web site, is the work of a small group
of disgruntled former faculty members, fueled by Internet rumors and a
muckraking Web journalist who is an alumnus. They dismiss the complaints as

Whatever the case, rarely has such ferment rankled the bucolic quarters of
the summer arts enclave founded 77 years ago in the pine forests of lower
Michigan. Interlochen is an annual rite of passage for thousands of young
musicians, the nation's major camp of its type, which claims to produce 10
percent of orchestral musicians in the country.

The turmoil began around Thanksgiving, when opponents of the current
administration said form letters went out to dozens of music teachers,
saying their services would no longer be needed in 2005.

"We're calling it the Thanksgiving Massacre," said one teacher, Sydney
Forrest, who has taught clarinet at the camp since 1959. "I'm chuckling, but
it's nothing to chuckle about."

Mr. Forrest's daughter, Paula Forrest, a piano teacher at Interlochen for 12
years who began attending as an 8-year-old student in 1959, was also
dismissed. Mr. Forrest is a retired professor at the Peabody Conservatory in
Baltimore, and Ms. Forrest is on the faculty of Iowa State University in
Ames. Her mother also taught at Interlochen for many years before her death.

Ms. Forrest has become the unofficial nexus of the ousted teachers. She
provided a list of names of at least 52 people who she said had been
dismissed, out of a music faculty of 144. Many of them, like her father, had
taught there for decades or had also attended the camp. The dismissals
undermined a deep-seated sense of closeness and camaraderie, she said.

"It's like being excommunicated from your family," she added. "It was done
in a very callous way, to get a form letter with a scanned signature from a
place that I believed in more than anything else in my life."

Jeffrey S. Kimpton, who took over as president of the larger arts complex of
which the music camp is a part in the summer of 2003, said that in fact only
29 music faculty members were asked not to return, and he said the
dismissals came as form letters rather than in discussions because of the
threat of lawsuits. The music faculty this summer would now number at least
125, he said.

He said the dismissals were part of a broad effort to update the camp's
curriculum after 50 years of stasis. Sessions have been cut from eight to
six weeks and were made more flexible. The board, nearly half of whom are
alumni, were behind the changes, and donations had not dropped but were
actually on the rise, officials said.

In a posting to the alumni Web site, Interlochen's board chairman, Gerald B.
Fischer, said declining enrollment, fewer applicants, higher cancellations
and fewer returning campers were threatening the camp's reputation and even
survival. At the same time, the student-staff ratio last summer was two to
one. "That is not a sustainable ratio," he said.

The dismissals were first reported in late November by the Traverse City
Record Eagle, the local newspaper, and by Drew McManus, who writes a column
for ArtsJournal.com. Mr. McManus, who attended the camp for three years in
the 1980's, criticized the dismissals. He posted a sample letter of
complaint to send, and solicited comments from the ousted teachers.

But even before that, Mr. McManus had criticized, in a detailed series of
articles, what he said were changes by the new administration under Mr.
Kimpton that were diluting Interlochen's mission: reducing the focus on
ensemble playing, bringing in more star teachers and ending a hallowed
tradition, the challenge system.

That system helped make Interlochen unique and produced an intensely
competitive atmosphere for some students. Essentially, players would try
every Friday to move up a seat in their sections by auditioning for their
peers, who would vote yea or nay. While it could sometimes be a brutal
endeavor, many alumni later said it taught them how to deal with
competition, motivated them to learn their parts, taught them how to play in
front of others and made them better musicians.

"It was one of the founding concepts of Interlochen," Ms. Forrest said, a
"friendly but tough competition" among students who already had a bond.

The system was replaced last summer with less frequent auditions in front of
faculty members. Mr. Kimpton, who, opponents note, never attended or taught
at Interlochen, called the previous method "some kind of ridiculous voting
system" that had grown corrupt, with students picking favorites. Half the
faculty did not even abide by it in the past because they disapproved, he
said, and the system no longer mirrored how students functioned in

A spokesman for the camp, Paul Heaton, said that Mr. McManus had "fanned the
flames" of the administration's opponents with inaccurate reporting and that
Interlochen officials were no longer talking to him.

Mr. McManus said that he had repeatedly offered space to camp officials to
correct any errors but that he would do so only if they would answer
questions. Mr. Kimpton also issued an implicit threat to take legal action
against him, Mr. McManus said.

"I've done a considerable amount of very accurate research," Mr. McManus
said. "In their desire to make Interlochen a better educational institution,
the administration has rushed into making changes without conducting
thorough, proper research among their own faculty, staff and constituents,
and as a result they have made very bad decisions."

In an e-mail message, he added that dozens of Interlochen alumni, parents
and supporters have thanked him for raising the issues.

The music program, with 2,000 students and 15 ensembles, is just a part of a
sprawling complex on 1,200 acres. The entire arts camp, with an annual
budget of $27 million, includes creative writing, dance, theater, visual
arts and new additions like a digital imaging program and music theater
workshop, but music is the largest part. The complex includes an arts
festival, a year-round arts high school and public radio stations.

Mr. Kimpton said the music camp was only one part of a much larger, changing
arts institution.

"Those that want to stay status quo and not change are going to have a very
difficult time surviving," he said. "We're going to survive and thrive, and
these changes are going to get us there."

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