Thursday, February 22, 2018
Opinion

Stefan Sanderling's departure from Florida Orchestra sounds out of tune Stefan Sanderling's departure from Florida Orchestra sounds out of tune

As a small child, from time-to-time I would spend the night with my grandmother. This was both good news and, well, less good news.

On one hand, I would be treated with a prebedtime milk shake. On the other hand, I would have to sit through The Lawrence Welk Show, which was sort of the Rolling Stones of the octogenarian Geritol crowd.

Still, leading a band didn't seem all that demanding, Welk would simply say: "And a one, and a two . . .," as he waved his baton up a down and that appeared to be that.

Apparently Tampa's artsie-smartsie set is all lathered up by the impending departure of Stefan Sanderling as the toe-tapping conductor of the Florida Orchestra.

I suppose this is a big deal, although it doesn't rise to same level of a civic crisis had the Tampa Bay Lightning's Vinny Lecavalier announced he was taking his stick waving talents elsewhere.

Apparently the maestro racket isn't such a bad deal.

Sanderling was scheduled to conduct 10 to 14 masterwork programs for the 2013-14 season before heading off to his next gig. But now he'll only be syncopating for one program in each of the next two seasons, which will include Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, which is German for Louie Louie, and Haydn's Farewell Symphony, which is better known as the Austrian version of Take This Job and . . . .

It's not entirely clear why Sanderling is moving on, but there has been speculation he got his Dvorak dander up over the lousy, stinking pay handed out to members of the band.

Or it seems the musicians of the Florida Orchestra could make more money as the opening act for Ybor City grunge groups on all you can barf Thursdays.

Still, if Sanderling, who makes between $180,000 and $200,000 a year, was so concerned about how little his charges were making, he could have given some of his paycheck back. You're right, that would be like expecting the orchestra to perform Wagner's Ring Cycle with kazoos.

After all, for all the money the Spike Jones of classical music was making, the Florida Orchestra shtick is still very much a part-time job.

It's not as if for his 200 large, Sanderling is working 9 to 5, year-round with time off to catch the latest Andy Williams show in Branson.

For in addition to his Florida Orchestra job, Sanderling is also the principal conductor for the Toledo Symphony. And the Spinal Tap of Stravinsky also is represented by Columbia Artists Management, which arranges guest conducting performances around the world, all for getting dressed up in tails and waving a branch around.

I know there is likely much more to conducting an orchestra. Being able to read music probably helps a bit, although jazz pianist Erroll Garner couldn't read a note and he still managed to write Misty.

Don't you suspect just about any of the members of the Florida Orchestra could probably manage to take over the conducting chores? After all, these people are classically trained musicians, who have had more pieces of wood shaken in their general direction than a sixth-grade class being taught by a nun.

In fact, at least 11 guest conductors have been lined up from the Bach bullpen to replace Sanderling, beginning with Stuart Malina, who might tackle Beethoven's lesser works, Das Wrigley der Kaugummi, the German version of Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight?

Altogether now: And a one, and a two . . .

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