Violinist Vows to Settle Score

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October 31, 2010; Source: New York Post | Martin Stoner’s complaints against Young Concert Artists, Inc., may be starting to grow old for the nonprofit group that helps launch the careers of budding musicians. But the 60-year-old violinist vows to fight on so he can play on. Stoner, who has been out of work since losing his job last year with the New York City Ballet’s orchestra, has already taken the group to court once for not letting him compete with 19- to 26-year-olds, for $75,000 in career and management support. Maybe they were just stringing him along, but the group did permit him to perform in its preliminary auditions last month with 277 others. But he wasn’t allowed to continue into the finals. Stoner, who played for the ballet for 25 years, claims that it’s not his artistic ability in question, but his age. He says that two of the competition’s three judges “wrote ‘age 60’ on their ballots and circled it,” according to the New York Post. In his filing in Manhattan Federal Court, Stoner sued to stop the semifinals so he could participate. The lawyer for the Young Concert Artists stopped the threat of an injunction by arguing that granting Stoner’s request would harm the performers who had made plans to travel to New York from out of the state. Stoner says he will continue to pursue his suit because he wants a job and doesn’t “have any other options.” He adds that “in the classical music world, if you begin at a late age, it works against you.”—Bruce Trachtenberg

  • NancyC

    Good heavens, this is SO irritating. YOUNG does not mean age 60. Mr. Stoner, you had a fine career, and made a living as a musician. That’s more than many can claim! Sorry you were laid off, but it is not YCA’s job to re-start your career. Are you being egged-on by an attorney with a fee at stake?

  • SAM MIHAILOFF

    I suppose it also would be discriminatory for you to be excluded from the Eastman Kodak Cutest Baby contest as well, although you might gain top score in the whining portion of the contest. You have now certainly gained “name recognition”. However you shall spend lots of money on lawyers only to finally realize the obvious to every other thinking, living, breathing creature on the planet.
    The contest was advertised with its age restrictions. You were hardly duped into anything.
    You are what is wrong with our country. Whine, tantrum, complain, scream entitlement and then finally create a lawsuit; and for what…to be enabled. Your actions spoil the efforts of the sponsoring group and hinder the noble attempts of other participants. Also, now that you shall forever be associated with this act of self-centered stupidity, future audition attempts can end up on the cutting room floor quite easily. The term is “blacklisted”. As a musician, I am quite ashamed of you. Your efforts could be channeled so much more positively elsewhere.
    Get out your bankbook…lawyers love to litigate. They win, even when they lose.

  • Ayla

    To be fair, it was stated that “the group did permit him to perform in its preliminary auditions last month with 277 others.” So, initially, it was YCA’s fault for letting him perform in the prelim auditions in the first place. If there are age restrictions, why did they let him audition?

  • JoeB

    In addition to Stoner’s already successful career, he is eligible to collect a huge pension at any time. If he waits until age 65, it should be between $6-10K or even more monthly, plus his excellent retirement plan with NYCB’s 401K. He was FIRED from the ballet and similarly squawked about that — and it’s very, very difficult to get banned from that group due to contract protections.

    Stoner has a point about any tax-exempt group restricting entry due to age. However, YCA has never been a guarantee to entry in the profession. Their leadership is suspect and nepotistic as well. Some of their excellent winners have done great; the majority have not, but those are the odds in competitive classical music, where few soloists ever make it. Many winners never got anywhere and spent a fortune on the time, training, instruments, and travel required to get there. Few agents take on ANY classical soloists, much less one at the end of his career. If Stoner is trying to earn an income, this is a very unlikely conduit to that goal. He sounds like a very smart guy in many ways. Perhaps he could further benefit the music world by working for many of its nonprofit orgs behind the scenes. The salaries are darn good, as no one at the IRS checks in on the arts.

    Stoner made the choice to forgo a solo career early on and opt for orchestra work — which is very hard to get and commendable to win. But he made the choice at the appropriate time. Sixty-year-old Olympic swimmers also don’t win. He didn’t take the risk but still aced it on his on terms, having a good career and retirement benefits.