Un-Heralded Beginnings

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Welcome. As many of you already know, I have been laid off by the Miami Herald through an “involuntary buyout” — an Orwellian phrase — in an effort to cut expenses. The position of classical music critic has been eliminated, and my final day will be July 3.

I’ll have more to say about these events and the implications for the local music scene in future posts. But at this moment, I want to express my gratitude to the many individuals and arts and music organizations that have called or emailed the Herald’s top editors on my behalf. In particular, Patrick Quigley, artistic director of Seraphic Fire, Howard Herring, president and CEO of the New World Symphony, and Dean Shelly Berg and colleagues of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Deeply felt thanks to you all.

The “massive” and heartening response by so many makes me even more determined to find a way to ensure that intelligent, honest, in-depth, and comprehensive coverage of our vital, evolving and often chaotic music scene continues in some form. This temporary blog is a first step. Stay tuned.

Posted in announcement, column

14 Responses to “Un-Heralded Beginnings”

  1. Posted Jun 26, 2008 at 6:46 pm by David S.

    Hi Lawrence, shame to hear about the cut but kudos for your perseverance! In regard to your new platform, will you be critiquing any recorded materials or simply covering the local scene?

  2. Posted Jun 26, 2008 at 8:27 pm by Anonymous

    Great Start. Look forward to your ongoing writing

  3. Posted Jun 26, 2008 at 8:50 pm by Jose Serebrier

    Shame on you, Miami Herald. Cultured minded people will stop reading your newspaper. Not having a music critic negates the great cultural strides made by the South Florida community in the past decades, and does enormous damage to the long-held prestige of your newspaper and the entire community.
    Lawrence Johnson is one of the top music critics in the country.
    José Serebrier
    Carole Farley

  4. Posted Jun 26, 2008 at 10:22 pm by coperniblog

    Hi Larry,

    All I can say is that this is ridiculous. I’m sure that your erudite and informed voice will not be silent for long. Godspeed.


  5. Posted Jun 26, 2008 at 11:36 pm by Daisy Olivera

    As someone who loves classical music and everything it has contributed to my life, I’m appalled that Lawrence Johnson’s position was cut. As the former host of The Morning Show on WTMI Classical 93.1 radio, I know firsthand how this hurts organizations in S. FL. like the ballet, the opera, New World Symphony, etc. and contributes to the dumbing down of Miami. Maybe these same organizations who give big advertising dollars to The Herald should reconsider. It is shameful and embarrassing that in a city of this size and of such international recognition, the one newspaper of record cuts the music critic. James Roos is probably spinning in his grave. And I don’t mean as a DJ.

    Looking forward to reading you again! Daisy Olivera

  6. Posted Jun 27, 2008 at 3:46 am by Ariel Roman

    Though deeply saddened by the Herald’s decision to cut a crucial pillar of any vibrant and respected cultural community, I thank you for choosing to continue your outstanding work through this blog. And hopefully as more voices demand your expertise, due actions are taken so you can soon address the whole South Florida community via other more visible means.
    Again, thank you and all the best!
    Ariel Roman

  7. Posted Jun 27, 2008 at 3:57 pm by Mark Hart

    A new performing arts center, a top-notch department of cultural affairs, some of the most committed and well-produced cultural organizations (grass roots and otherwise), a community that is not beyond the need for cultural awareness, and the letting of cultural coverage. 2 + 2 = 5? I’m having some difficulty with Miami Herald math.

    Larry, your work is appreciated by a large class of people out there. Thanks for forging ahead!


    Mark Hart

  8. Posted Jun 27, 2008 at 8:06 pm by Bruce Hodges

    Lawrence, welcome. (Although the way you landed in the blogosphere is distressing!)

    But “the Miami Herald’s loss is our gain”–or something like that. Regards and best wishes.

  9. Posted Jun 28, 2008 at 5:25 pm by Sean Piccoli

    And now we resume our regularly scheduled vilification of the critic for his heretical opinions … Cheers, mon. I am really pleased I get to keep reading you.

  10. Posted Jun 30, 2008 at 4:21 am by Jo-Michael Scheibe

    I am amazed by the short-sightness of the Miami-Herald’s decision to eliminate the position of its Classical Music Critic. In a town where the classical music scene is just rebounding after the heart-breaking loss of our major symphony (The Florida Philharmonic), now another blow arrives. Is this a decision that advances culture in South Floorida? I dare say not.

    I am personally thankful for having been on both the positive and the negative reviews by this outstanding critic. While I may not always have agreed with Mr. Johnson’s reviews, I must also state that this was also sometimes the case with Mr. Roos. Criticism of cultural events is critical to the improvement of the art form. Without someone offering both the positive and the negative educated commentary -who do we then rely on?

    Larry, while I may no longer be in the South Florida Community, I will look forward to reading your honest assessments of the classical music scene in my former hometown.

    My sincerest regret!

    Jo-Michael Scheibe, DMA
    Chair and Professor
    Choral and Sacred Music
    The University of Southern California

  11. Posted Jul 02, 2008 at 3:33 pm by Ray

    Yet another brick in the wall where once the cultural elite shone bright in an otherwise dim and lonely landscape. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am!

    Poulenc live on!


  12. Posted Jul 04, 2008 at 12:34 am by Rafael de Acha

    Hello Larry! I join the ranks of so many who have expressed chagrin over the Herald’s decision and extend my support to you. I salute your resilience and courage and look forward to reading you regularly. Good luck!

    Rafael de Acha

  13. Posted Jul 17, 2008 at 2:23 pm by Lansing

    Shameless! Unfortunately, the Miami Herald isn't even the first Herald to eliminate the classical music critic position: Just this spring Keith Powers was let go from the Boston Herald. This on the heels of the Boston Globe letting go of Richard Dyer. And of course just this year Paul Horsley was let go from the Kansas City Star, and even Alan Rich was let go from the Los Angeles Weekly!

    So consider yourself in good company… (though I'm sure that's hardly any consolation).

    For those interested, the Music Critics Association of North America just sent the following letter to several newspapers:

    Lansing McLoskey
    Asst. Professor, Composition & Theory
    Frost School of Music, UM

  14. Posted Jul 17, 2008 at 7:53 pm by Lawrence

    Thanks to all for your posts. Feel free to email the blog URL to your friends and colleagues who support continued classical music coverage in South Florida.

    Lansing: Thank you for the post but one small correction. It’s true that classical music critics are being thrown under the train by many papers, but that was not the case in Boston. Richard Dyer retired from the Boston Globe, where he was succeeded by Jeremy Eichler, a terrific critic who formerly wrote for The New York Times.

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