Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Drink and drug addictions ‘blighting lives of classical musicians’

Addict’s Symphony is a documentary that focuses on the on-going epidemic of addiction to drugs and alcohol among classical orchestra members. A participant in the documentary, Rachel Lander, a cellist turned waitress, sheds light on the lifestyle that professional musicians face on a daily basis that leads to these addictions. Composer James McConnel created this program when his son died after a heroin drug overdose in 2011.

The link to this article is here.

Sometimes as an arts manager, we forget how our decisions can affect those who we may not see or work with on a daily basis. While we may be planning over 250 concerts a year for our organization, we do not realize the impact that it might have on our musicians and staff. It is important for arts managers to remember that our decisions impact everyone single person in the organization. Please remember: we are working with human beings! 🙂

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2 comments on “Drink and drug addictions ‘blighting lives of classical musicians’

  1. alexgilbertschrag
    August 27, 2014

    This article was eye opening for me. There isn’t much written about drug or alcohol problems in relation to classical musicians, and this seemed to address a problem that is more extreme than we realize. As arts administrators, we should always be aware of the artists needs whether they look out for themselves or not. However, I wonder how feasible it would be to keep track of everyone in an orchestra to determine whether or not they needed help. I definitely understand the idea of some musicians using beta blockers and alcohol as a means for coping, but I do think that this article generalizes this problem to all orchestra members. I think this would be an intriguing study to conduct and to find out if there were other factors behind their addiction!

  2. dianalfreeberg
    August 27, 2014

    I had a similar reaction to the article. As a theatre artist, my interaction with classical musicians has been very limited. As an arts manager, that will change. For me, the biggest issue I see here is the lack of conversation. There’s no dialogue, until it’s too late. I think it’s critical that individuals, such as Rachel Lander, speak out. Their voices can impact those currently struggling with addiction in that community. However, those voices shouldn’t just emerge after the issue has already rooted itself. Addiction should be talked about and there acknowledged as a serious issue within the arts community as a whole.

    Thank you for sharing this article!

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