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Concertmaster's last hurrah

Symphony budget struggles

On his LinkedIn blog, "The compassionate skeptic," he reflected on the financial travails of contemporary American symphony orchestras.

"I have played in five major orchestras over the span of a 40-year career," Zaplatynsky wrote, "and I have never seen such a severe budget crisis all across the board for what has always been a fragile institution. Symphony budgets consist of three legs; ticket sales (covering no more than 40 percent of the budget), fund-raising and some government support (usually state or local). The current economic climate has seriously damaged all three sources of revenue."

Gingold's words of wisdom

The violinist was especially saddened by the Cleveland Orchestra's budget struggle last year. "That orchestra is one of the truly legendary symphonic ensembles and this is a story that I thought I would never see," Zaplatynsky wrote. "One of the greatest influences my development, both as a musician and a human being, was Josef Gingold, longtime concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra.

"It was my privilege to study with Josef Gingold, a remarkable artist/teacher at Indiana University. Gingold was not only a great teacher, he was a truly wise human being...

"One time he asked me, 'Andy, do you know who was the greatest artist that I ever saw?' I assumed that it would be someone like Jascha Heifetz or Fritz Kreisler. I was wrong. He said, 'Joe Louis, the boxer.' I was stunned. Prof. Gingold added, 'He never made an unnecessary move.'

Hard times come again

"Another unforgettable moment came when he shared with me the hardships of the Great Depression. He spoke of his good fortune of getting a steady job in a New York theater pit orchestra. At times, he would call in sick so that an unemployed colleague would get a call to substitute and make a few dollars. The stories were gripping enough, but what he said afterwards simply floored me...'Andy, remember the world does not owe you a living.'"

Gingold's words of wisdom now echo in the minds of the 60-plus unemployed musicians of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.

While Zaplatynsky shares his colleagues' disappointment with the SSO suspension, after three decades with the orchestra, he's ready to retire.

"Thirty years is a long run," he said. "I was blessed!"

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