The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has been in the news quite a bit lately, but probably not for the reasons their Director would like.
It started with reports that the ASO had dropped two Cobb County high school choruses from their holiday program. A spokesperson for the Cobb County School District stated that they were informed by the ASO that Lassiter and Walton high schools had been dropped because they were "not diverse enough". That was the catalyst that started a firestorm of controversy with message boards and internet sites lighting up immediately slamming the ASO.
When I first heard the report on the news my jaw dropped - did they REALLY say that? I have no reason to doubt Cobb Counties version of why the full choruses were not asked to return but I also have to wonder if there is more to this story.
The ASO subsequently released a statement which in essence said that it was simply time for other high schools to have a chance to sing with the symphony. So either the ASO is furiously backpeddling or this is simply a case of inviting other choruses to experience what Lassiter and Walton have for the past few years.
If the ASO did state that the lack of diversity was the reason that these high school choruses were not invited back, then shame on them. Some people have called the comments attributed to the ASO "reverse discrimination". There is no reverse discrimination - it is what it is.
The ASO should not tiptoe around this. They need to come out and state categorically what they did/ did not give us the reason for these two schools to be excluded.
Even so, if there was some miscommunication between Cobb County Schools and the ASO, I think it is going to be near impossible to stuff this cat back in the bag.
The second story surrounding the ASO broke on Patch this morning. It seems the audience at the Il Divo concert at Verizon Amphitheatre in Alpharetta got slightly less than they paid for. Billed as Il Divo "with" Atlanta Symphony Orchestra you would sort of expect that you would get to hear the ASO play. Apparently not, Il Divo went all "Milli Vanilli" on the concert goers (remember them?) and had another orchestra's music piped through the speakers. To be fair it doesn't appear that the ASO were privy to this plan until the day of the concert. If I was a musician with the ASO I would be highly insulted. Verizon is the ASO's summer home - if they are sitting on the stage, the audience should be hearing these talented musicians play. Hey, Il Divo, if you want to use a pre-recorded track, fine. Just don't dupe your paying customers Ok?