Cliburn president: Union fees too high to archive all final round videos

Posted Friday, Jun. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A little brouhaha was, brewing this afternoon over social media regarding the Cliburn’s recently announced decision to only offer one concerto performance per finalist to be available in the Cliburn’s extensive video archive.

The finalists themselves are required to perform two concertos for their final round and, in competitions past, almost all of the candidates’ performances, especially for their final round, were preserved in the Cliburn’s archives.

A post on the Cliburn’s Facebook page said this:

“REGARDING FINAL ROUND VIDEOS:

Because of our agreement with the American Federation of Musicians, we will only offer videos on demand of two Final Round concerts, those on Friday and Saturday nights. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

This means we will provide a recording of one performance by each of the six finalists. Videos will be posted on cliburn.org/ondemand.html shortly after the concerts end.

For those able to watch in real time, every Final Round performance is being streamed live on http://cliburn.org/ondemand.html.

Thanks to everyone for watching!”

Dozens of fans commented, many upset that they weren’t able to watch Thursday night’s performances through the Cliburn site. Some avid Cliburnites, anxious to vote on their “audience favorite,” said they feel that having only one archived concerto per finalist might not give them enough of a basis in order to vote for their favorite player.

For Jacques Marquis, Cliburn president and CEO, it’s a complex issue that has boiled down to negotiating with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s American Federation of Musicians’ union, in order to save money on the fees the Cliburn pays the orchestra to maintain all the final-round concertos on video.

“When you offer video on demand, that means you have to archive everything and that means you have to pay a lot of fees,” Marquis said. “Honestly, we would like to use those fees for the ambitious documentary we are doing and if we want to have footage for the documentary, we have to pay the musicians those fees for using that concert video. That costs a lot, especially when you consider that we might film 90 minutes worth of the orchestra playing only to show two minutes of them in the documentary — but we’d still have to pay them for those 90 minutes of them playing. I decided that we just don’t have the kind of money necessary to pay for 10 hours of recorded music to only at the end have two minutes used for the final documentary.

“And as for those who want to cast their vote for audience favorite, they can always listen to all the streaming concerts — which will still allow all the candidates to be treated fairly — always my most important concern,” he said.

The Cliburn said that its on-demand videos will be posted on cliburn.org/ondemand.html shortly after the concerts end.

— Andrew Marton, Special to the Star-Telegram

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