Musicians’ Voice

Volume 112, No. 12December, 2012

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the
state of union affairs. The letters here do not necessarily express the views of
Local 802. E-mail letters to
or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036.
Letters must be no more than 300 words.

Sibelius users speak out

In our October issue, we published a story by Richie Vitale about
the company Avid, which owns the music notation program Sibelius. Avid tried to
replace its professional Sibelius programmers with cheaper labor in the Ukraine.
That story prompted the following letters.

Richie Vitale’s story cuts to the heart of what is wrong with
allowing so ubiquitous a public resource as the world’s leading music scoring
application to be taken hostage by the likes of Avid Technology. Sibelius UK was
last week finally shut down unceremoniously by Avid with its entire development
team sacked and headquarters permanently closed. The size of the development
team is now zero, since no developers surfaced in the Ukraine who were up to the

I can go to the library and see original scores that have lasted
hundreds of years, yet in just a few short years, my music scores won’t even
open on newer operating systems on newer machines, thus perpetuating the long
tradition of asset stripping and customer desertion by greedy corporates devoid
of vision and humanity.

We have allowed ourselves far too easily to be railroaded into
using music technology and become its captives, but why would I bother to get
all trained up on expensive products like Sibelius, when Avid is only going to
shut them down, leaving me high and dry with white elephant software?

This company has just three bitter enemies in its sights: its
staff, its customers and its stockholders whose shares have collapsed in value
from $70 in 2006 to just $6 this week. Musicians can therefore have no faith
whatsoever that any music application owned by a corporate like Avid will
safeguard their art. I say "Boycott Avid."

–Derek Williams
Derek Williams is the administrator of

I’ve been following the problems at Sibelius with deep
disappointment. I remember when scores and parts first started coming by email
in Sibelius format; when three different groups sent Sibelius files prior to
recordings or concerts, I bought my first Sibelius version and never went back
to my old program. I’ve used Sibelius to notate and proofread commissions from
the NEA, from a dance company, for a TV show, and for my own group’s last
three CDs. It’s an astutely designed professional program that, at this point,
seems best in the world. Everything changes, and the failure of Sibelius’
parent corporation to continue to employ and support its development staff will
be an opportunity for new developers, but it is a needless loss of talent and
accomplishment. Sibelius’ parent company, Avid, should put Sibelius up for
sale, so a new corporation can steer it forward.

–Andrew Sterman

For many musicians, their notation software is like another musical
instrument. It is one way that they communicate their music to other musicians.
Like an instrument, a musician tries to master the software and turn it to his
creative will, and sometimes the instrument needs to be adjusted. For many
years, Sibelius users have had access to the amazing Daniel Spreadbury and
members of the development team, some who had been there from the start, to
carry on the spirit of the original designers. Now these people are gone. To
belabor the analogy, this is similar to Martin or Gibson deciding that all their
instruments will be made on machines in Korea from now on. Machines make good
instruments, and these companies make some of their instrument that way, but
these are not the instruments artists choose if they have a choice. There is
soul in software as there is in an instrument, and Avid has pretty much snuffed
it out for Sibelius. I, and many other formerly passionate Sibelius users, can
no longer recommend Sibelius, and word of mouth does matter with this type of

I wish the best for the Save Sibelius folks, but the original
developers are gone now, and even if Sibelius could be sold it is unlikely the
original developers would come back.

So I do not have much hope for the future of Sibelius. It should be
able to sail on for while, but it will likely drift into the places where Encore
and Igor and other notation programs come to rest. This is a very sad way for
such a great program to end.

–Bob Zawalich

Remembering Eddie Bert

Eddie Bert (1922-2012) was a legend beyond legends in the music
business. He was dedicated musician, a serious trombonist, and quite a lovely
man. The fact that he lived to such a beautiful and great age and still played
flawlessly, was a tribute to his love of life and music. When I asked him to
play at my husband Billy’s memorial he not only quickly agreed, but tore the
house down with his rendition of "Mood Indigo." He will never be

–Marlene VerPlanck

Editor’s note: Our obituary of Eddie Bert was published in the
November issue.