Marjorie Moris' report on the VPO protest in Philadelphia. 

Post March 8, 2003

As I sit here wondering what is happening at the Carnegie Hall
appearance by the VPO I am only now decompressing from Wednesday night's
protest at Philly's Kimmel Center. We were only two small women, but we
made a good impression on the patrons, most of whom arrived by one main
entrance (luckily use of the side entrance was restricted to one door
because of construction). My twin sister Marilyn Quinn, music librarian
from Rider University near Trenton, NJ, and I donned giant front and
back signs and handed out William Osborne's great flyers. Before we put
the signs on I slipped into the lobby area around the snack bar and
placed a copy of the flyer on most of the tables, then tiptoed up to the
ladies room on the second level where I put a flyer into each of the
stalls. Then we headed out front with the signs at 6:30. A large
security officer came out and asked, on behalf of the Center's director,
that we move our demonstration across the street (a large four-lane
boulevard!). My sister pointed out that this was a public sidewalk and
asked why he was worried about two little women like us! So we stood our
ground and enjoyed talking with many patrons and passersby about the
VPO's history and deceptive tokenism. Since many had already read the
pre-concert news release they knew that there would be two or three
women recently hired by the VPO. A few thought this solved the problem
so we felt that we needed to stress that tokenism and temporary
substitutes were being employed in a deceptive manner by the VPO. Our
signs for the night :

Viennese Waltzes Are Gender-Blind
Masterpieces Not Master Races
3 Females is Tokenism
A Woman's Place Is in the Orchestra

We smiled a lot, got many "thumbs-up" gestures and supportive comments.
Only a few shook their heads and glared. Some said they regretted having
tickets. We were very busy and do wish we had had more people there to
handle the load. At one chaotic moment I was accosted by a Ms. Falcone
who identified herself as the PR director for the VPO. She was obviously
not happy with us being there and very defensively tried to assure us
that the problem with hiring women was over, though I believe her
unidentified partner said something about "that would never happen" when
I asked about hiring a Japanese musician.We nevertheless shook hands and
introduced ourselves as she rushed into the concert. I would like to
know more about this woman and how long she has been in this position.
She did NOT take a flyer! Before we left at 8:10 I stuck a flyer on the
windshield of the Action News van out front and spoke with two young
oboe students from nearby Curtis Institute. One was a black male, the
other an Asian male. Both talked disparagingly of the VPO! Incidentally
Channel 6 Action News did a brief video spot on the 11 o'clock news that
night. It only showed a close-up of the violin soloist (program that
night was the Berg concerto and Bruckner's 4th), but it clearly showed
just a couple of tutti players right behind him and one was the female
violist. Can't help wondering if the VPO helped with that photo
decision! No mention of the controversy made it on TV.

Well, that's it! It was a satisfying opportunity for myself and my
sister, and I think it went well. The Inquirer's review next morning by
David Patrick Stearns mentioned the protest in the first paragraph. You
can find the review as well as Peter Dobrin's pre-concert send-up at ( search "Vienna Philharmonic") . We should thank the
Inquirer for at least mentioning the problem and not stating that the
issue is dead.

Now on to Washington for tomorrow's peace march by women! Then time for
a nap?!

Marge Morris
Music Librarian
Rowan University