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April 8, 2009

Story on local musicians affected by economic downturn

Among the many people affected by the recession are those involved in the arts. In today's paper, I offer a look at how a couple of musicians are faring now that they lost their expected gigs with the Baltimore Opera Orchestra and two other ensembles. (Freelance musicians are used to having to scramble for a living, and they often supplement musical work with part-time jobs outside the field. In that regard, they may be slightly more fortunate than, for example, full-time administrative and production staffers who lost their jobs when the opera company went bust.) 

If you're a regular concertgoer in the area, you've seen both of these players -- double bassist Laura Ruas (left) and violinist Tamara Seymour (right). Some of my story about them didn't make it into print because of space, so here's a little bit more:

The couple met while getting their degrees at the Juilliard School in New York -- Ruas is a Bronx native, Seymour a New Jerseyite ("I'm from Exit 7A," she says) -- and performed in the New World Symphony, a post-graduate training orchestra in Miami led by celebrated conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. After their New World stint, they remained in South Florida, performing regularly with a several concert and opera orchestras.

"We got tired of Florida," Ruas says. "Some friends told us to come up to Baltimore. They said we could get some gigs here. This looked like a nice town, and there was opera and a symphony here. And moving back to New York would have been too expensive."

Since settling here, they’ve seen music organizations go through good financial times and bad, just as they did in Florida, each slump affecting the work load.

The two musicians talk about possibly moving to a place with cheaper rent. They have eliminated some things from their lives to save on expenses, but they haven’t lost their sense of humor. “You have to be positive,” Seymour says. “You have to get up in the morning with a smile and remember how much you love music. All you need is love, baby — and a Lexus.”



Posted by Tim Smith at 11:39 AM | | Comments (2)


What a great idea! Thanks for posting... the rest of the story.

Here is an article on what Pennsylvania is doing to support arts organizations. Too bad that the State of Maryland couldn't help the Baltimore Opera.

"Pittsburgh Opera receives $1 million grant from state
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
By Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
No telling how well Gov. Edward Rendell sings, but the Pittsburgh Opera was all ears when he presented the company with a $1 million Capital Budget Redevelopment Assistance grant at the Allegheny County Courthouse yesterday."

Thanks for passing this along.TS

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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