60 year old violinist sues Young Concert Artists Inc

November 1, 2010 at 05:53 PM ·

I was rather fascinated to read this article about a 60 year old violinist suing the Young Concert Artists Inc. because allegedly their age limit of 19-26 for applicants discriminates against older musicians such as himself. 


Interesting to read that he was actually allowed to take part in preliminary auditions!  Is it really possible or indeed ethical to argue that age limits for awards and competitions are age-discriminatory?   

Replies (100)

November 1, 2010 at 08:06 PM ·

What an absolute loser.  Why doesn't he start his own "aged concert artists, Inc." if he so desperately needs the work. 

November 1, 2010 at 08:37 PM ·

Why should he have to?

November 1, 2010 at 08:38 PM ·

If he has the urge, and the ability, to teach, perhaps that's what he should do – it is what some musicians are happy to do when they quit performing in public for whatever reason.  But if he has neither the urge nor the ability to teach then that's the one music activity he should keep well away from.

November 1, 2010 at 08:53 PM ·

"Why should he have to?"

Cooooome on...I suppose he plans to sue American Idol next?  Is his last and only resort to apply to the "young" concert artists inc?????  Jebus help us all!  Young up and comers need all the help they can get!

I suppose this is the next best thing to "losing" his Strad, go for it old man!  Go for it!

November 1, 2010 at 08:57 PM ·

 Speaking as a 58 year old I think that my generation and (to a lesser degree our parents) have ripped off young people with massive debt, protectionist policies that keep older and incompetent people in jobs and pension schemes that make it hard for employers to bring in young people. The automobile bailout was essentially a mega-billion protect old people bill. The only setback that older people have faced recently is the new comprehensive health care reforms which have taken a few nickels away from Medicare to extreme howls. (Many howls are justified but not that one.)

Meanwhile in many companies the average age of the workforce is 45+ and many of these companies have gone for years letting go of young people because terminating older people is nearly impossible.

The current foreclosure crisis is effectively keeping young people from buying homes at market rates. I feel very sorry for young people today. 

November 1, 2010 at 09:05 PM ·

"Young up and comers need all the help they can get!"

Given that your first instinct when confronted with a 60 year old man who has the nerve and absolute, unforgivable gall to think he might have something worth communicating musically to an audience is to call him a loser, I'd highly doubt that.

November 1, 2010 at 09:49 PM ·

Oh dear! I know Martin personally, and so I don't want to comment too much specifically about him. I will say that he is not a loser, but he was misguided about pushing himself into YCA, particularly. After all "Y" stands for young! It was nice of them - however much under duress - to allow him to participate in the prelims.

Most competions have an age limit of about 30. Personally I accept these realities. But I also understand and share Martin's frustrations, even though I'd never dream of doing anything like that. I'm 58 myself, and I'm a better fiddler and musician now than I was at 50, or 30 for that matter. Yes, young people need help. But so do many fine musicians who were not prodigies, and who may have a lot to offer audiences. They often fall through the cracks, having had to try to make a living in all sorts of ways, both musically and non-musically. When they've reached a point where they may have things in place enough to give it a shot, with few exceptions nobody is interested - including managers and concert presenters. Indeed, many managers are like ambulance chasers, after the newest competiton winner or 12 year old sensation, fleet of finger but limited in maturity. And the maturing artist already on their roster - unless a superstar, becomes yesterday's news, as does yesterday's preteen sensation who was pushed too fast, over-exposed and often all but discarded.

I'm not advocating changing the competition rules. But maybe there ought to be other competitions or grant searches especially aimed at over-40 artists who are worthy but somehow have not made it big. Personally, I feel that I'm just getting started!

November 1, 2010 at 09:51 PM ·

Well, here are a few clips of him performing in recital:



Do you all feel that the standard of performance presented here is competitive with the students in the age 18-26 bracket that apply for grants from Young Concert Artists?



November 1, 2010 at 09:53 PM ·

While it's not clear why this older musician lost his job, it's certainly gratuitous to blame an entire generation for ripping off young folks. I feel for the guy, with a family to support.

I also don't feel, at age 63, that I've ripped off anyone by my continued existence and employment. I respectfully suggest to the elderly who are racked with guilt that they take the honorable way out, and cease using resources that are the prerogative of the young; further, that before exiting this mortal plane they take pains to see that their possessions and savings are distributed fairly to the youth of the nation.

Meanwhile, those who have supported  the position of the political classes that have led us into this state can take the opportunity to vote them out of office tomorrow. Good luck with finding someone worth supporting, however.

November 1, 2010 at 10:03 PM ·

It sucks when anyone loses their job but him filing a lawsuit like this because he is suddenly out of work is a loser move.  Now that he is so passionate about the issue I will stick with my suggestion of his starting his own competition and to quit being a drama queen. 

Also since his family really needs him right now maybe he should direct any extra funds he has towards them rather than towards lawyers?

November 1, 2010 at 10:40 PM ·

If I follow his logic correctly, after the YCA, I suggest he enter the Sphinx competition. And then perhaps the junior level of the Menuhin competition.  Oh, and I hear From The Top provides some great exposure -- he should give that show a shot as well. 

I feel for him and his situation (it sucks, truly), but careers in the arts can be challenging, not to mention heart breaking, and success is often a result of a combination of factors -- some controllable, some not. Among other things, creativity is essential.  And maybe that provides the key to his (surely doomed) legal efforts to win a spot in the semi-finals.  Would he have even made the semis had he fallen within the age range? Highly doubtful. And he probably knows that. But it doesn't really matter, does it?  He's already being noticed. And maybe that's all he wanted all along.      

November 1, 2010 at 10:41 PM ·

 Bob, My tone seemed a bit rough but not too intentionally :)  I believe that everyone should be paid according to what they have to offer and plenty of us older guys are worth every penny of what we make. But I don't believe in protecting jobs just because someone is older. Unfortunately we have every protected class imaginable except vigorous productive people of any age, ethnicity, gender or preference. 

In a way it is offensive that there should be a labelled "Young Artist" contest but there are so many factors working against young people getting traction in our society that I can hardly fault the effort. 

November 1, 2010 at 10:58 PM ·

"old age is the most unexpected of things that can happen to a man" - leon trotsky

November 1, 2010 at 11:27 PM ·

 This reminds me of the gentleman who sued Hooters for sex discrimination when they wouldn't hire him as a waiter....   (shaking head...)

November 2, 2010 at 12:46 AM ·

Hi, it's ok to have an audition for youngs because I agree with Corwin but they should also make at least one for older people.  Like this, both would have a chance and none of them would step on the feet of the others.  Ultimately, it should be talent and great musicianship that lead to the decision (not age, gender or look).  Anyway, it wouldn't be a bad thing to hire talented young and old players because when they lose one, they can get someone as good fairly quickly to fill the chair...  (because so many talented artists pass auditions for jobs).

Musicianship and talent has nothing to do with brown, blond or grey hair,  it's just a matter of what we hear when we close our eyes ; )  (or behind a screen...) 

Good luck to all!



November 2, 2010 at 01:42 AM ·

The guy highlights some valid points. If we, as a society, supposedly take a position against discrimination, why should age be excluded?

That said, there's more to the mix. We're also a capitalist society, and investors and promoters will likely see greater advantage in a horse they can ride for 40 years, rather than five or ten.

Then there are the videos linked in Gene Wie's post.....

November 2, 2010 at 02:00 AM ·

 Re: Raphael, I wholeheartedly agree that there should be competitions that are aimed at 30+ musicians.  I'd rather hear someone that has something interesting musically to say, than hear youth for the sake of youth.  According to today's standards, David Oistrakh would've been "too old" to have competed at QE at the age he won.  Can you imagine some of the careers we could be stopping?  Anyway I agree that when young there can be perspective missing at times, that people can become technically and musically superior older rather than in their 20s.  It's been one of my wishful thinking/pet projects that if I had enough $ I'd LOVE to start a competition for people who are 30+.

November 2, 2010 at 02:43 AM ·

Elana, I would invest with you if I had money too ; )  

I have also often wondered what would people like David Oistrakh would have done nowadays???   Would they eliminate such a player from the QE just for age reasons?  Imagine such players beeing turned down...  It would not be fair at all...  

David and Gene mark a point...   of course older players that want to play with youngs or as youngs would have to play with the same level standards. 

Elana, it would also be so great to have competitions for adult amateurs!  In the last and first one I did, I was 21 (because I'm a late starter) and was by 6 years the oldest even though the competition was open to every age.   I didn't really like to pass for a grandmother at 21!!!  Not anxious to turn 22 this year... might as well get myself mints ; )  So the same problem with amateur violinists...

Interesting topic!


November 2, 2010 at 02:46 AM ·

I think the suit is absolutely absurd. If you try and homogenize everything, you will end with mediocrity.

If you have a group of young musicians competing against their peers, it is a fair competition. If you allow other groups to enter, then the rules completely change.

The skills that younger musicians need to develop is how to proceed in such a challenge, and the development of each of their peers has a chance of being equal for temperament, nerves, maturity, etc. Once someone outside that group is involved, the mental development and basis of approaching things is different; The competition is measuring the complete musician, and any behaviorist, sociologist, or psychologist with a real degree will agree the comportment of someone from the opposite end of the spectrum will not be the same.

That said, measuring the development of a more mature (as a person) musician with the tools used to measure the development of a maturing (as a person) musician is inappropriate.

Short version: This is a peer competition, and these are NOT his peers.

I wish him well, I have intentionally not listened to the audio files presented before I wrote this, because this is strictly a viewpoint of perspective. I will listen, but I strongly feel that this suit is only to the detriment of the field.

November 2, 2010 at 03:57 AM ·

I feel bad for this violinist.  Obviously losing a job is tough and he's probably going through a lot of turmoil now so he might have made this decision while he was not emotionally sound to file this lawsuit.  

With that said, looking at this from a purely legal standpoint, whatever you may think about YCA, they are if I'm not mistaken a private organization.  They're entitled to set their own rules, and age limits.  If they're taking government money or any type of federal aid (like universities do) that's another thing (which I believe isn't the case?).

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. 

November 2, 2010 at 04:23 AM ·

Coming to think of it, there are a few competitions w.o. strict age limits such as one section of the Osaka chamber music festival. Of course competitions will have their vagaries no matter what, and are not the be-all and end-all of developing a career. The main thing is to persist in a good way, if you feel that you really have something to communicate.

Back when I was young enough I seem to recall sending a preliminary tape to YCA - although it's possible that it was to the Artists International or Concert Artists Guild competitions. All three are rather similar in their scope and New York based. But my memory is leaning to YCA. Anyway, I got a letter saying essentially 'not quite'. Several years later I tried again. This time I was deemed hors concor! In just several years I had apparrently done too many recitals, festivals - whatever, on my own! They felt that I'd already put myself out there enough, and were looking for talented young people who at that point had gotten very little exposure. Sometimes you just can't win!

Then in my late 30's I came across a competition/festival called Concerts Atlatique. It sponsored a month-long recital festival in Geneva Switzerland. If you were chosen, you'd be promoted in two recitals. Well I sent them a tape, and got a very nice letter back saying, 'sorry, we can't take everyone we'd like. But do try again.' I thought "OK, a nice form letter." Yet I somehow got a good vibe from them and following my gut instincts I tried again just one year later. This time I was more than accepted. They said that I got one of the highest preliminary ratings they had ever given and waived a live audition! I was one of only about 50 winners for the month-long festival out of 1,400 applicants, and one out of only two solo violinists so chosen! So it was on that festival on Geneva that I made my European recital debut!

The moral? You never know. As the legendary heavyweight boxing champ, Rocky Marciano used to say "keep punching"! But anent our subject at hand I might add - but don't hit below the belt, or try to bite someone's ear off! It might generate some attention for a while. But in the long run, it's not a good idea.

November 2, 2010 at 04:42 AM ·

I don't think he is a loser, but he is a complete JERK!  There are too damn many lawyers in this country and too many people taking advantage of them.  Being on the defending side of a frivolous law suit that could cost me upwards of $100,000, I have no sympathy for these ridiculous legal cases.  I have never sued anyone in my life and I hope I can say the same the day I die.

Last week, I cut a check for $5000 to buy professional liability insurance.  I run the most honest and ethical company you will ever find, but you never know when some scum bag is going to drag your butt into court.  Win or lose, the legal expenses will eat you alive.  The legal system in the US is broken and people like this just exacerbate the situation. 


November 2, 2010 at 05:48 AM ·

The single (so far) comment at the bottom of the article pretty much says everything I was thinking.  He wasn't tricked, he wasn't lied to.   Whether his playing was good enough to advance or not is irrelevant; he was not qualified to enter this competition because of his age

I suppose there might be some merit to his suit if winning this competition was the only path to making a living as a musician.

Is he going to sue his local youth orchestra next?


(On the other hand, I feel bad for him.  It sounds like losing his job has really thrown him for a loop.  It's too bad that this is likely to be waaaay more expensive, and probably less helpful, than talking to a therapist.)

November 2, 2010 at 07:31 AM ·

I'm afraid I disagree with most of the above - and I use dance as the example.

Ballroom dancing has its competetive side known as dancesport and this is undertaken by ages ranging from 5 through 70 and is broken into different 'heats'. Here I will focus solely on 'amateur couples, which includes the broadest range (this is distinct from professionals who make their living from teaching etc).   I should say at the outset that there are competitions exclusively for youngsters (e.g. junior, youth) but these are not the elite ones, they are regarded purely as training grounds for the highest level.  This would be "Amateur".  There are also heats exclusively for older people: thus, Senior I (over 35) Senior II (over 45) and Senior III (over 50), that younger dancers can not enter - but these also are not the elite.

The important thing is that to enter Amateur you can be ANY age.  Dancesport deals with the larger number of entries by simply eliminating the weak entries with preliminary rounds (round 1, quarterfinals, semifinals finals) much as there is in large violin competitions.  There is NO age discrimination at all.

Why can violin competitions not be held the same way?  As far as I am concerned the object is to find the best violinist?  Though I must admit I do like the 'amateur' vs 'professional' distinction (even though that has become rather clouded in dancesport of late) which could be set on the basis of establishing a permanent job (orchestra, studio, paid performer) in music.

Thats not to say there should be no competitions exclusively for young players - but these should clearly be development programs and not elite achievement ones.  There is a difference.

My two cents.

November 2, 2010 at 09:10 AM ·

Here in the UK there has definitely been a downside because of the trend with orchrestras to employ more young people, and especially females. (Young males only want to become lawyers, accountants and doctors these days, the opposite to my days when I refused training as an accountant twice, because playing the fiddle was the only interest I had).

Where it has been possible the older players have been "retired" from orchestras at anything from 50 plus, this has had a detrimental effect on young orchestral players too, as a conductor friend of mine pointed out recently, because there are less older players to give the younger inexperienced ones some usuful advice and tips.

This has generally led to a lowering of orchestral playing standards, at least in some orchestras.

Before anyone says I'm moaning because it may have affected me, let me say that I gave up regular ochestral playing at age 47 voluntarily, and I personally think orchestral works sucks, to us a US term!

However, in the UK it is now frowned on, and may it even have just become illegal, to have a retirment age here, so maybe things will change. Perhaps the situation is very different and older people have been more protected in the US?

November 2, 2010 at 09:23 AM ·

 Maybe they need to make it so you can only win once?  I can certainly imagine Itzac Perlman's evil twin hitting up all the young artist competitions just for the money, despite not needing it.

When I attended comunity college in the US, I met many adults in their 40's and 50's attempting a career change.  They where hard working students.  And I got better grades than them.  I really felt sorry for them, since they either didn't know, or had forgotten the foundational accademic subjects.  These weren't stupid people or even from the lower class.  They where certainly smarter than the stoners in the back.  But unlike the stoners in the back, they had other disadvantages too.  Sometimes they would bring their sick children to school since they couldn't stay home with them.  Their mom's didn't do their laundry for them.  They where either too old or too proud to pull all nighters.  They had to cook dinner, file their taxes, fill out little forms for unemployment, go to meetings for various reasons.  In essence, do a lot of chorse that young people mannage to avoid.

In essence, these people really, really struggled.  They didn't fail, but I got better grades.

And if you remember those stoners in the back.   Have you ever had a beer with any of them.  Sure, some of them are losers who just don't give a damn.  But many of them are smoking because they are anxious.  Anxious about the future.  For us young people, we live in constant fear that we will not succeed in our chosen career.  The reward for our studies and success is that the fear will come to an end.  I cannot imagine still feeling the uncertainty, that as a college student I feel today, when I'm 60.  While some people are strong, most people cannot live their whole life not knowing whether they will have work next year...

Which is why most mothers say.  You know dear, you should take a double major.  Find steady work.  And then do your musicianship on the side :D

November 2, 2010 at 09:46 AM ·

Thought provoking to read all the responses to this.   I'm guessing that in the USA, a 60 year old could still apply for any orchestral audition and if his/her standard was appropriate would be able to go through the "screened audition" process without having to worry about age discrimination?  

I suspect there's a lot more to the story than we know about from the article.   Unfortunately it does seem that the only people who'll ultimately benefit from this situation will be the lawyers...

November 2, 2010 at 10:25 AM ·

My cello teacher when I was a teenager  was a freelance professional for most his very long life, and one of the jobs he did was to run an evening workshop for returning adult players, under the auspices of the LEA.  When he was told that his services for this workshop were no longer required solely because he had reached the magic age of 60 he nearly went ballistic. He continued teaching privately, including I believe running his own little ensembles for beginners and returners,  conducting and giving cello recitals, for at least the next 20 years.

Some years later a similar thing happened to me and a number of other musicians employed part-time by the local authority. In my case I was a cello coach to a county schools orchestra; others were peripatetic teachers.  You can imagine the wealth of experience thrown on the scrapheap by this short-sighted bureaucratic policy. 

November 2, 2010 at 10:27 AM ·


The only reasons why you young people feel anxious and nervous is because you have allowed us older ones to put the pressure on you, by insisting you pass this exam and that exam and get a good job here, and have kids etc. (Mostly parents do this but by no means all, as society insists on this too).

It was still just a bit like that when I was young, but not nearly so bad. I put two fingers up and refused to bother with exams, sports, a good carrer and all that, and I didn't give a stuff about anything other than music and the arts.

Young people need to chill out and take their own lives back. And the oldies need to forget about parasitical lawyers, and also learn to enjoy life.

In fact, in three words, we should all "get a life." The worst thing that can happen is that you die.

November 2, 2010 at 12:17 PM ·

Rosalind - yes, in the U.S. a 60 year old could apply for an orchestral audtion. They are officially not allowed to discriminate on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Officially. But let's say you have a 60 year old fellow who does so, and passes the preliminary audition - assuming that round is run fairly. There are ways around that, too. In the finals, the screen is removed and the jury, which now includes the Music Director, sees a fellow long in the tooth enter the stage. Unless he plays like a combination of Joseph Silverstein and Glenn Dicterow, he will be at a great disatvantage. What orchestras are allowed to do, if I'm not mistaken, is set a mandatory retirement age. Why not choose someone else, who will be able to stay much longer, so the orchestra doesn't have to hold auditions again so soon? Plus, a Music Director would usually rather have someone he can mould, rather than a fellow more likely set in his ways. And you can never prove discrimination in this situation. The Director and committee can always say "look - this was our artistic judgement. We simply preferred the playing of another candidate" And, of course, that could be true.

November 2, 2010 at 12:40 PM ·

What say we all just go to Hooters for lunch and move on? :-)


November 2, 2010 at 02:30 PM ·

Why not 'Butts'?

Actually, the idea of both grosses me out...

November 2, 2010 at 03:26 PM ·

lol, a big butt coming at you with a plate of wings...hmmm...NO

November 2, 2010 at 04:08 PM ·

Just to enlarge on something David B. said:  Once you start using the law to prevent restrictions by people or private institutions regarding who they will deal with, then the law has to define the line between what's okay and what's not okay.  In our current culture there will ALWAYS be people trying to move that line to encompass more things as 'not okay', and they will tend to succeed, because the arguments typically offered FOR the right to discriminate are weak and pragmatic and avoid fundamentals, since arguing in terms of fundamentals requires accepting forms of discrimination which most people find far too abhorrent to allow.

We are trapped in a continuum between a widely abhorred position and a clearly ridiculous one.

November 2, 2010 at 04:22 PM ·

I like that this particular violinist is trying to move that line because it is suddenly convenient for him...love that passion!  I think he should work at Hooters

November 2, 2010 at 04:31 PM ·

How ridiculous can a person get. He should never have been allowed to enter the contest. Is this how Americans are bullied by the specter of litigation. The contestant must have lots of cash resource to afford litigation. If he wants to enter a contest he should abide by the rules period. It is a pity that he was even allowed on stage, they should have called 911.

November 2, 2010 at 04:54 PM ·

So Dion,

You are OK with every contest and perhaps every job position stating 'only applicants below 30 will be considered'?


I think you got the sex of the butts wrong... not to mention their size



November 2, 2010 at 05:42 PM ·

@Elise ;

A  would be contestant cannot dictate the rules of a competition or change it, and it does not take a huge IQ to understand that. What makes me happy has got nothing to do with the argument. When entering a competition I would be expected to play by the rules and not try to bend it to suit my position.  

November 2, 2010 at 07:58 PM ·

Since when did competitions = jobs?

There's a vast difference between winning a job with a major symphony, and winning a one-off competition with a cash prize.

While it's obvious that employment needs to be governed by laws against discrimination by gender, age, and other protected categories, I'm not sure that competitions run by private organizations are required to do the same, nor do they need to be.

Of course, this issue could be settled by having their panel of judges discriminate against the player based on the quality of his playing, and see where it falls in the pile of contestants.

November 2, 2010 at 08:04 PM ·

I find it surprising that some sympathize with this crack pot, even support him.  Nearly every endeavor has age categories -- junior tennis, junior golf, junior swimming, etc, etc.  Next thing you know, this guy is going to sue the special olympics for not allowing him to compete.  Maybe they should; he appears to be mentally handicapped.

The unfortunate thing about this is the fact that the legal system in the US is broken.  There is a complete absence of common sense.  To conform with our broken legal system, the judge probably has to let the case run its due course, which will cost the YCA many thousands of dollars in legal fees.  As far as I know, the YCA is a perfectly respectable organization.  It is unfair that they should have to bear this cost just because some guy feels sorry for himself.


November 2, 2010 at 08:44 PM ·

Of course, I sympathize.  I feel the sting of discrimination whenever I encounter "Ladies Drink Free" at local bars, or senior citizen discounts at movies. And don't even get me started on Children's menus!  How can it be surprsing, then, that I would be overcome with righteous indignation -- nay, outrage -- when a private competition designed explicitly for young people and run by a private non-profit organization formed for the sole purpose of helping talented young musicians has the temerity to exclude someone almost 40 years beyond the age limit!  And, as someone mentioned, I'll bet they even discriminate FURTHER within that group by awarding only those who play the very best!!!  What about the lousy musicians?  Do they not deserve to win as much as the good musicians?  In fact, do they not deserve to win MORE than the better musicians precisely because they are lousy, because they need it more?  Do they not deserve to have careers in music just because they want to have them????  I humbly submit that the answer to these sincere queries , my friends, is obvious. 

November 2, 2010 at 09:20 PM · "There's a vast difference between winning a job with a major symphony, and winning a one-off competition with a cash prize." But this is NOT a one-off competition with a cash prize. The winners receive assistance finding employment. I'm not and don't wish to be a proffesional musician, but I ran into the same kind of discrimination when I lost my job at age 60. Age discrimination in hiring (in the US) is illegal. Proving it is almost impossible. All they have to say is that "someone else was more qualified."

November 2, 2010 at 09:24 PM ·



still shaking head....   resigned grin on face---the world is a very strange place.  

November 2, 2010 at 09:55 PM ·

And apparently over-the-top sarcastic responses (mine, that is) aren't helping...If you're still up for those beers at Hooters, David.... I hear Anna Karkowska is giving a recital during happy hour ...

Lyle, age discrimination sucks. No doubt about it. But it's not applicable here.  The competition is explicitly FOR young people. Period. Stoner is too old to enter. Them's the breaks.  The Sphinx Compeition is designed to foster ethnic diversity in classical music and entrance requirements are designed accordingly.  Stoner, as far as I know, probably can't enter that competition either.  Too bad.  If there's no competition for 60-year-old violijnists who think they deserve a solo career, well, maybe someone ought to create one. It's okay.  And not inviting the youngins to compete is okay, too, if that's the way you want to design it.  It might even be pretty cool.  And maybe.....just mayyyybeee....some of those 60-somethings might find they're not as good as other 60-somethings...and maybe the fact that they're not getting hired by major orchestras might just have something to do with not having the chops to do it... youtube is instructive in this regard.

November 2, 2010 at 10:19 PM ·

Posted by Dion Ackermann

"How ridiculous can a person get. He should never have been allowed to enter the contest. Is this how Americans are bullied by the specter of litigation. The contestant must have lots of cash resource to afford litigation. If he wants to enter a contest he should abide by the rules period."



Yes, we are probably bullied by litigation, and the prospect of litigation. Smiley mentions defending a lawsuit, and I have too. In mine, no judgment was rendered against me or my business, but it still cost between 20 and 40 grand to defend. If you don't defend, you default, so you're between a rock and a hard place. The threat of a lawsuit can be used as a form of blackmail.

Our US society places a high degree of political correctness on non-discrimination, probably due in large part to our short slave history (once the war for independence was over, importation was banned after about 25 years, and the entire practice was abolished after about 75 years). How far should it go? Should the quadruple amputee be embraced as a competitor in college track team hurdles, or the pole vault?

As far as having lots of cash in order to litigate, this may or may not be necessary for the plaintiff. There are various lawyers, and groups of lawyers, who are willing to litigate for free (or a percentage of a potential judgment) to forward a strongly held agenda, make money, or receive exposure.

Discrimination is a slippery slope, just like free speech in the US. Not all speech is constitutionally protected . There is a specific set of definitions, largely defined by torte (lawsuit) history.

So I'm not trying to disagree with any of the opinions posted. Just trying to interface them with various real working models.

Is it "right" that a 60-year-old should be denied the same opportunities as a young person? Probably not. Is it reasonable? Sure.

November 2, 2010 at 11:01 PM ·

I am not against older players having a fair shot at things, but I also think that a specific event can set the limits it wants, within reason.

After reading a number of responses, I still think the same, but I also am more aware of the potential value of this contest.
I still believe the same, but I think that the best answer would be similar to what Title IX in america did for sports (Gender, not age).

If the venue were to offer similar resources across the age and gender spectrum, relative to the participation of that subgroup in the activity, it would be fair. So, if the youth had this support, then there should be a relative event for the not-so-young. If the controlling limit was gender, then it should provide the same resources to both.

Taking a program that is trying to focus on bringing young players into the career and forcing it to accept someone outside that category will not occur without some ripple effect harm on the program, in my opinion.

November 2, 2010 at 11:27 PM ·

> But this is NOT a one-off competition with a cash prize.
>The winners receive assistance finding employment.


The winners receive assistance in establishing *solo performance careers* in the form of management services, regional debuts with appropriate orchestras/ensembles, and performing experience at no cost to them.

This is not in any way "employment" in the traditional sense (regular paycheck, benefits, etc.) and the recipient of the award is not guaranteed a job (aka performing career). The foundation tries to assist young musicians of exceptional ability who can demonstrate that by the MERIT of their playing that they are worth supporting as artists, until they either break into the big time or call it quits.

> Should the quadruple amputee be embraced as a competitor
> in college track team hurdles, or the pole vault?

For sports, if the prosthetic replacements for their limbs are deemed not to give them any sort of mechanical advantage over their peers, then yes. Unfortunately, the physical reality of this is that we have not reached the level of biotechnological advancement were we can provide people with replacement limbs that function at an *equivalent* level with original, real, ones yet. We're getting there though!


November 2, 2010 at 11:39 PM ·

 I think this is such a silly and petty thing to do. I wouldn't enter in for an adult competition at the age of 16 should the limit be 18 for instance. He knew the competition was limited to 26 at the highest. Why doesn't he just let it be and go and make his own competition for 'miserable buggers over 60 who want to be pains in the ar**s and annoy the hell out of younger people.' 

That is the way I see it. 


November 2, 2010 at 11:41 PM ·

 Interesting.... But it is the Young Concert Artists.  I agree with whoever said it's good to be judged fairly against your peers,  I guess in this case, age group. 

November 3, 2010 at 12:00 AM ·

Someone mentioned above that many (most? all?) competitions are limited to 30 and under.  What should be realized is that even though winning a competition does not guarantee you a career it surely is a major stepping stone to recognition and a solo career.

I still have not seen a single compelling reason why an older entrant should not be allowed their chance.  What real damage does it do?  Sorry, but aren't the arguments sounding rather like the rationale to exclude people from participating in career opportunities based on race or sex?


November 3, 2010 at 12:37 AM ·

 Perhaps it would not be fair to put the older, wiser, more seasoned and experienced players against the young ones.  These young people cannot possibly match the distinction of their older colleagues. Can they?  Isn't it an unfair advantage that some could have had more than 40 years experience with a piece, when the young person is fresh out of the starting gate with it?

 I still think we should have the right to set any limits we want to in such competitions.

And I still think the Hooters analogy has legs...er..uh.. rather... oh never mind!




November 3, 2010 at 12:48 AM ·

Tomothy, I agree sooooo much!  Studies truely do bring a lot of anxiety on us young people...  But Peter has a good part of the truth...  We ought not to get manipulated by stereotypes and ideas form the elder about how we should manage our lives.  Not that long age, people all ready had a life on their own at 18 + and weren't linked to their parents because of studies like today.

But this doesn't mean we can't pick at what we want in the elder's recommandations... what you told moms tell is very very true...  It took me time to understand this but somehow I did a mix between "get yourself a prestide job" and "it doesn't matter if you're not a med like Peter told" ... I'm in OT lol  And do all this for my beloved violin!   

Back to my homework ggrrrrr... ; )


November 3, 2010 at 12:50 AM ·

" Why doesn't he just let it be and go and make his own competition for 'miserable buggers over 60 who want to be pains in the ar**s and annoy the hell out of younger people.' 

That is the way I see it. "

Let us know how you see it when you're responsible for feeding, clothing and sheltering a family.

November 3, 2010 at 01:34 AM ·

Well, I would never hire this man for a gig. I hope he has luck finding work now.

November 3, 2010 at 01:50 AM ·

Bob if you have to gamble on feeding, clothing and sheltering your family by winning competitions, playing the horses would be a better option. The child prodigies will assure that.

November 3, 2010 at 05:40 AM ·

OK, I'll make it even.

I'll start an Old Fart ( Fiddlers Are Really Tough)  Competition.

It will be at Aneroid Lake, in the Eagle Cap Wilderness on Feb. 5- 7, 2011.

The closest measured temperature is at Joseph, Oregon, which is expecting a mean temperature of 30. Expect it to be at least 10 degrees colder in the mountains; also expect a few feet of snow.

Due to the lack of infrastructure, campfires will be the primary source of heat; be careful with your instrument when you snuggle too close.

Top prize is $25.00, second prize is $15.00, and third prize is $7.50. I will also publish the winner's names in a letter to the editor of the Chieftain, the local newspaper.

If anyone is interested, let me know in advance; I need to schedule the horses (there is no road access, and motorized vehicles are prohibited in the wilderness area).

November 3, 2010 at 07:13 AM ·

Roland---Is there a Hooters?  :-) 


November 3, 2010 at 07:46 AM ·

How do pension schemes operate in the US?After 25 years of service to a single orchestra did he not qualify for a pesnion in some early retirement scheme?For many musicains retirement can open new perspectives such as forming chamber music groups or giving masterclasses.Attempting a solo career at an age when most soloists are cutting back on the constant travelling and absenses from the family that the job requires is fraught with complications.A soloist must have a complete knowledge and mastery of the concerto repetoire and an ability to work on and memorise new repetoire very quickly.After 25 years of playing in an orchestra some of these concertos will need a complete haul over.The field out there is full of very talented and ambitous youngsters who are willing to travel anywhere at the drop of a hat and lets face it probably have much more stamina than an older person.(Is that a discriminitve thing to say?).I know many much younger musicians who have turned to teaching in middle age simply because they could not stand the loing absenses from home and family and the consant stress of preparing performances.

November 3, 2010 at 11:30 AM ·

I think that age discrimination is a very real factor in the music world and I think there should be more avenues that support musicians of any age.  However, I do not think that taking legal action on an organization specifically designed to help younger players is an appropriate action for a 60 year old player.  At the age of 27 I'm just about too old for many competitions and I wouldn't ever think of suing.  I'd just shrug and keep practicing, for pity's sake.  If you have a square peg and you only see round holes, keep looking for a square hole or find a way to make a square hole in a new way.  What's to stop this guy from making his own opportunities?  What about chamber music? What about busking? What about string quartets? What about starting a whole organization for angry older gentlemen who don't understand how to behave with dignity?

November 3, 2010 at 04:36 PM ·


Sorry, no Hooters. There are, however, a number cougars in the area.

November 3, 2010 at 04:42 PM ·

Are the cougars wearing spandex?

November 3, 2010 at 06:46 PM ·

It's SHAMEFUL that a sixty year old man legally attacks a Non-Profit organization that aids young artist, pitiful. There are other ways to get employment.

Transvestites working at Hooters   - eu- weee

November 3, 2010 at 08:44 PM ·

No spandex; the ones I am familiar with wear fur.

November 4, 2010 at 02:37 AM ·

not any more Roland.  The animal rights people kept throwing ink on them....

November 4, 2010 at 03:00 AM ·

They won't throw ink on these cougars. They are wearing the ORIGINAL fur coat; they grow it.
Anyone trying to throw anything on them will likely be chewed.

November 4, 2010 at 03:40 AM ·

I'd rather be chewed than sued.  Mr. Stoner can bite me, but please don't drag me into court.


November 4, 2010 at 03:56 AM ·

Roland, you just described my dream competition! Do you have any applications handy? lol!

November 4, 2010 at 03:56 AM ·

Roland, you just described my dream competition! Do you have any applications handy? lol!

November 4, 2010 at 07:03 AM ·

Here's the application

Applicants will be required to bring their own survival gear, tents, and sleeping bags.


November 5, 2010 at 01:49 PM ·

While I think it's silly to enter a competition that he's not eligible for I do understand his plight.  I'm in my 30's.  Young enough not to feel discrimination, but old enough to see the young conservatory students creeping into my gigs.  Although fine violinists I'm not particularly impressed with their level of experience or professionalism and am taken aback when they have been placed to sit next to me.  Babysitting. 

In my twenties I was in no shape to participate in competitions.  Now that I feel I have a shot I am no longer eligible due to my age.  There doesn't seem to be many competition opportunities for anyone past the age of 30.  It would be nice to see some.  I'm not a very competitive person but there have been some competitions I would have liked to enter but was not eligible.

November 5, 2010 at 07:42 PM ·

I havge a different angle of thought, not addressing the gent, but addressing the issue of the availability of competitions for 30+ violinists.

There is a social trend that is getting more prevalent; in the past, someone thought about starting their career, but now, people enter the adulthood and expect to have a number of different careers. Working at the same job for 30 years is not even on their radar.

I know that music can take a lifetime to master, however there is a wide variety of careers in music.

I think some process to assist musicians as they switch career (even within the industry) may be more needed than in times past.


How would this be arranged? How would such a system be set up, what would be the rules, etc.?

November 6, 2010 at 02:25 PM ·

 what i don't get is this: with this notoriety of suing others to get recognized, who in the world later would dare to hire him in the future?  isn't this some form of professional suicide by burning all bridges near and far?  psychiatric evaluation is really under-utilized, just saying.

or is he really altruistic enough to sacrifice himself to blaze a path for other older musicians?  from reading the article, that does not seem to come across.  he is concerned more about providing for his kids.  some way to go about it.

i don't believe for one second in a free world a person like him cannot find a job.  luxury once tasted becomes a necessity, i guess.   he can teach violin if he wants to.  he can retrain himself if he wants do.  he can rot in the same spot if he wants to.  come on.

for those who are older than those competitions' limits,,,really, why complain about it and not do something about it.  for the time you spent posting on here, you could have meant it by calling others in similar plight and organize a club locally, and then try to set up some type of competition club vs club, regional club vs regional club, then let the drift takes its own course...

like me, i think most of you just want others to put the platter right in front of you and then you complain they forgot to bring you the utensils.  when they bring you the fork, you ask for chopsticks, ha!

November 6, 2010 at 02:37 PM ·

 Bob, you have no idea of any situation I am in and I think I've had the fair run through with being responsible over money and other things. 

What I am trying to get at (I will say it all in a less-harsh way) is, If I were in the situation this 60 year old is in with feeling discriminated against because of his age, I would do the mature thing and either 1) work with the organisation in order to sort something out such as setting up competitions for the older people who would like to get involved, 2) walk away and think 'oh well, I can do better than this' or 3) Ask around and see if anybody would like competitions set up. It would take time and effort, but doing this could get funds secured or donations put in to run competitions of his own for older people. This way, he wouldn't be sueing a non-profit organisation just because he feels bitter and twisted about not getting his own way and he would be getting enjoyment and pleasure, and probably a good name from working with others to create competitions for the older people. 

It is just a shame that he took the sueing route and has now put his neck on the line... good luck to him now, he will never have chance of getting a job in which he can earn good, honest money. 

November 6, 2010 at 03:24 PM ·

It's ridiculous to think that this man can't possibly get a job now because of this decision.  He is obviously an experienced violinist and the contractors who know him and have worked with him before know him better than we do.  It wouldn't stop me from hiring him if I were a contractor... what is he going to do - sue me for hiring him?

I expected outrage on v.com from young people but I am astounded that this guy is getting so much backlash from those of us who are closer to his age.  Age discrimination is nearly impossible to prove so for someone to take a stand against it is either foolish or extraordinarily brave.  I don't see how anything bad can come from this lawsuit - perhaps he will not win but I thank him for standing up for more mature musicians.

November 6, 2010 at 03:37 PM ·

Marina, I disagree a bit. I'd be reluctant to hire someone who has shown a propensity to sue. He may not sue for being hired, but he might sue when the job ends, or for some condition he doesn't like during employment. I don't see how it wouldn't be a negative, if looking at ten people who otherwise might be equally qualified for a job.

Most of us would rather just do our jobs, rather than getting sidetracked by spending time and money on legal issues and disagreements. Legal messes can seriously interfere with quality of life.

I suppose what I've expressed is "propensity to sue discrimination", which one could sue over. LOL

November 6, 2010 at 09:32 PM ·

 I feel sorry for the guy, he's lost his job that he'd had for what? 25 years? And it has obviously made him feel bitter about things. Maybe the fact that he couldn't do this competition was the final straw and he has gone full-in now. That doesn't mean it is acceptable though. Age discrimination is very real as someone has said before, and very hard to prove, but I think we have ALL felt it in some way or another. The way to NOT take a stand is to go all in with legal action. It can destroy families quite easily, especially when something is based on one person not getting what THEY want. The way to actually do it is to be mature and walk away or alternatively, make a stand by doing your own things or actually working with the people who have supposedly discriminated him. Also, another bit of food for thought - what if the people who 'discriminated against him' didn't realise they were? I think we all jump to conclusions about situations before we have the full picture, it is part of being human, but at the same time, in order to resolve these jumps to conclusions, we can prove people wrong in our own way. 

November 6, 2010 at 10:17 PM ·

I feel sorry for the guy too, but I also have a mix of other emotions and thoughts. He's brought attention to a form of discrimination. He's also put himself into several controversies, and among those is whether he plays well enough to serve as a good "poster boy" for age discrimination. Perlman or Ricci might be better candidates.

Wait, did Perlman ever file a lawsuit for physical handicap discrimination? Naw, I think he just played well enough that nobody had an issue with him performing sitting down, or having difficulty walking onto the stage. I wonder if he was ever denied a job in a marching band? ;-)  Oh well, I guess there were other opportunities. Discrimination exists, but one way to overcome it is with obvious excellence.

In my business, discrimination is rampant. I could sue the people who have expressed a preference for Italian fiddles, or  French fiddles, or Strads, or an artificially antiqued fiddle, or a fiddle from a guy who makes them on a kitchen table using only a whittling knife, varnished with tobacco juice; someone who is entranced by a maker who claims to go through the forest tapping on trees; makers who claim they have waiting lists when they really don't; young makers (potential); old makers (proven), and so on..........

Instead, I've always tried to make a good enough fiddle that a sufficient number of people will need to re-examine their prejudices. Players have a number of different routes available to them as well.

Ricci, at the age of about 69 years, put out an un-edited version of the Paganini Caprices. Stradivari was making pretty good fiddles in his 80s and 90s. Perhaps they both felt some age discrimination, but it didn't stop them.

November 6, 2010 at 10:52 PM ·

 David, I completely agree with you there. There are many paths in life that you can take, it is just about choosing the right ones...

November 7, 2010 at 05:35 AM ·

Marty, Al, and others raise a good point.  I'm reminded of the unemployed lady who blew a fuse over Bank of America and posted the rant on Youtube.  All the while she was being hailed as some kind of populist hero, I kept wondering how many new offers of employment she got.  It doesn't really matter whether her anger was justified; if I ran the business, I'd be afraid of how vindictive a person like that could be to me over some affront, real or perceived, and afraid that the masses now approve and encourage such intemperate behavior.

In regard to this poor fellow: I hope when I reach his age I am "way over" trying to cram myself into an ill-fitting mold.  Emerson said, "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."  To me that means you go start that competition...or that recital series...whatever thing you've always wanted to do, but couldn't yet summon the courage to get out of your own way.  This suit has nothing to do with the value of what he has to communicate to an audience!  As if a competition prize were the ultimate proof of value.  If it's there, it ought to be largely self-evident whenever he plays.  Competitions are glamorous, but I suspect it is when they are over that the real work begins.  If he is insecure in what he has to offer (so often compensated for with ego), even a stellar marketing team can't cover it up forever.

November 7, 2010 at 07:38 AM ·

I wonder what I would do in that situation; starting over again at 60.
I have made career changes before, and they are daunting. The only time I felt the need to pull in some 'extra leverage' to get something, I thought of school. I wonder if I were in a position where that was not possible; what extra avenues are there to consider?
I do not think I would ever consider legal redress; it's just not how I see the legal system. I could use it for other things, but not to advance my career.

November 7, 2010 at 11:51 AM ·

how much adjustment does a violinist need to teach violin?


alright, alright.  anything short of a federal lawsuit just won't cut it.  but at least get some good representation.  suggestion below:



November 7, 2010 at 01:48 PM ·

 ...just got back from Hooters with my attorney...  ;-)

November 7, 2010 at 02:15 PM ·

Is it true that you were hired?

November 7, 2010 at 02:57 PM ·

 i doubt that, but the internationally esteemed firm of David & David can possibly provide some bouncer service:)

practice limited to high level violin teaching,  high level violin making and low level bouncing. :)

November 7, 2010 at 03:15 PM ·


November 7, 2010 at 08:08 PM ·


Hooters is probably pretty safe; I tried applying for a 'somewhat similar' gig once, but in my interview, I broke the pole. Tried to bring an action against the manufacturer, but apparently, there is a posted weight limit. Who knew?

November 7, 2010 at 09:02 PM ·

Roland - you still may have a case. After all, why should the manufacturer be allowed to discriminate against the gravity-challenged? ;-)

But seriously, in my first post I began by saying that I knew Marty personally. I'd like to clarify something: he's not my buddy. I just met him two or three times, and he seemed like an interesting fellow. The more I've come to learn from "informed sources" - well, let's just say that I'm personally less and less sympathetic on any level. Gee, can I get sued for even that much?

November 7, 2010 at 09:28 PM ·

Raphael, I know what you mean. We all have encountered or have been told things that confirm that someone can be very different from what we think he or she is.  Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse...  I'm now doing my psychology homework and can just think about that "in hard times, one can express unexpected things/reactions"  I guess for the better or worst too!


November 8, 2010 at 02:57 AM ·

Well the interesting part of all this-- which should probably never be posted here-- is why he left the City Ballet. 

I'm guessing that they don't still have you on probation after 25 years, and unless their contract is very unusual they wouldn't automatically push you out at aged 60.

November 8, 2010 at 03:26 AM ·

Aren't we getting too personal?  The issue is suing to be allowed to participate in a competition limited to persons under a certain age.  Please lets not get into possibilities of slander...

November 8, 2010 at 05:41 AM ·

Let's be accurate here, slander is spoken defamation, whereas libel is written defamation.

Is there really anything written in discussion here that's malicious, false, defamatory, and not true? Mere speculation about someone's competency in their profession doesn't really qualify, it's an opinion and not being presented as fact.

Furthermore, the musician here in question is already drawing so much negative press on his own, further claims to the issue are probably having little to no effect in the public eye.

November 8, 2010 at 10:20 AM ·

It was just a caution - once we start talking about reasons for him leaving his job - reasons that may not be public - then there is a real danger of violating his privacy even if not writing something that is illegal. 

I'm just asking that we stay on topic.

November 8, 2010 at 12:15 PM ·

What is very much on topic here, I think, is how cautious some of us - including myself - are feeling in the wake of just the legal action that we do all know about. Our society has become so litiginous that it's just ridiculous. But then again, maybe it's not such a new phenomenon. Isn't there a line in Shakespeare somewhere (is it Merchant of Venice) "kill all the lawyers"?

November 1, 2011 at 08:59 PM · Since Gene resurrected this thread, does anyone know the outcome of the law suit against the young artists?

November 1, 2011 at 10:04 PM · the nut case of course lost:


Sorry, computer not letting me html for some reason

November 1, 2011 at 10:05 PM · "Manhattan violinist Martin Stoner, 60, sued the nonprofit Young Concert Artists after it barred him from a contest based on age restrictions. When his ageism suit was thrown out, reports the New York Daily News, Stoner moved to have the 88-year-old judge replaced, saying the judge isn't qualified — because he's too old." LOLOLOLOL, love it!

November 2, 2011 at 12:19 AM · I can see the headlines now:

Deaf judge unable to hear fiddler's poor tone

Fiddler stamps his feet after losing competition, but Judges still feel he has no rhythm.

Young at heart fiddler unable to see judges old ways

Entitled violinist feels his perfect pitch will win over jurors, but judge hears enough.

Violinist is out of tune with Judge's inability to read his notes.

November 2, 2011 at 01:00 AM · Thank goodness the US legal system still shows signs of common sense. Now we just need the moron to pay the legal fees for the defense. Fat chance that's going to happen.

November 2, 2011 at 01:11 AM · Young Concert Artists Inc. may have had an open and shut case except for this little problem:

"Stoner said he was allowed to perform with 277 others in the preliminary auditions last month only after he threatened to sue and filed age-discrimination complaints with the National Endowment for the Arts and the state Office of Civil Rights."

They waived their own rules for him without any court order which may have opened the door for a legitimate claim by Stoner. He may have been bluffing but they shot themselves in the foot by allowing him to audition. Expect a settlement of some sort.

And 60 is young by the way.

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