Thank you for your support and, more, for your astute insight and further analysis. If the D&C can stop viewing the RPO as its "pinata dejour" we can move forward. The weekend concert was fabulous. Local boy, made good, Maestro Ward Stare and piano phenom Terrence Wilson were huge hits with the audience. That's ultimately what it's all about and all it should be about.
On a broader topic, the Sunday editorial in the D&C is disappointing and illogical. They round up the RPO deficit from an admittedly awful $746K ( nearly ALL in labor costs) to "close to a million" Nitpicking perhaps, but indicative of their bias and agenda. They suggest dropping the Board member financial minimums ($10K a year, actually Board contributions are much more) and letting in supposed new ideas from a more "diverse" Board, urging a free ride on expected annual support. Of course they do not suggest how to replace the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would disappear. How would that improve things? They mention that if these fresh new theoretical Board members can't financially support the orchestra they can get their friends to contribute. Simplistic and disingenuous. Anyone who has served on non-profit Boards knows that if you are asking friends to write big checks you first have to write your own. Tough world out there. Maestro Remmereit, by the way, was highly critical of the minimum expected RPO Board contribution: he said it was much too low!
A symphonic orchestra runs on money. in the same way a sports team runs on money. Get real. The only difference is that a very talented musician makes a tiny fraction of what a very talented athlete makes. But the principle is the same. Kind of shows where society's values are :(
The D&C gets very substantial advertising dollars from the RPO. I didn't see a community-spirited initiative from them to cut the impoverished orchestra some slack on this. As far as I know, the RPO got no support from the D&C. last year. Easy to talk the talk. If I am wrong on that I would be delighted to be corrected. Further:
I WILL MATCH THE "DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE," DOLLAR-FOR-DOLLAR, UP TO TEN-THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR ANY CASH CONTRIBUTION THEY MAKE TO THE RPO (CHALLENGE GOOD FOR 60 DAYS) Talk is cheap!
The D&C holds up the very fine Buffalo symphony as a shining example on how to do it right, but they conveniently ignored the BFO's 2012 financial report, showing that they had a couple of VERY generous Board heavy hitters who made challenge grants that made a huge difference; much to the BFO's credit. Good for them! God bless them. Every major symphony, I say again, every major symphony has to have very substantial Board contributions to make it. Some call the whole classical music business "elitist," Be that as it may. The truth is it appeals to a relatively small market and is a lousy business model. But for those of us who love fine music, we are willing to dig deep to keep it alive. It can't just be all about "Beyonce"
I absolutely accept that I will not convince you of anything, but for the benefit of others who may be tempted to accept your claims without challenge, I respond:
Please be specific about your unsupported claim that the input of over a thousand patrons and members were ignored? Who are these thousand people? Are you referring to the online dissident petition calling for RPO heads to roll? You may feel that that is a legitimate HR mechanism. Others do not. The RPO Music Director and the CEO report to the Board and their employment status is not and will not be determined by online polls. I also consider the online polls in the D&C asking readers whether Maestro Remmereit (earlier poll) should have been fired or if Charlie Owens (recent poll) should be fired, despicable, even though both tallies supported the RPO. Still, it's a throwback to the Roman Coliseum where crowds voted "Thumbs up / Thumbs Down" with hungry lions waiting for the count. How would you like you employment determined by a poll of poorly informed readers? I'll just go for the more common end-of-year review, thank you!
The fact is that all "RPO members" (individuals contributing at least $75 or companies who gave at least $300.) according to the RPO record dates received ballots. If you were a paid-up member, you received a ballot. The vote was monitored and validated by an outside accounting firm (Bonadio). What you really mean when you say "ignored," is that the vote did not come out the way you wished. The so-called "dissidents" went to court to argue the validity of the record date. Judge Fisher denied all those claims and admonished the attorney on her abuse of the legal system. In the meantime , this caused very real "harm to the musicians" by forcing the RPO to spend thousands of dollars in legal costs defending that nuisance suit. Money the RPO does not have to spare. You are now suggesting going to court again. If one claims to love and support the RPO as an institution, and wish the musicians (or at least YOUR musicians) no harm; this to is a strange way to show it.
Yes, the musicians are split. A sad turn of events. Fortunately, they are ALL so professional that they set that aside when the music starts. Still, for every musician lining up one one side of this, there is another with an opposing point of view. But if you see the choice as either "supporting an organization" (you disapprove of) or to "harm the musicians," you will agree that harming the musicians cannot be a selective process; you do them all ill.
By claiming that "the leadership blatantly scorns us," what you are really saying is that you disagree with the decision that was made and don't like the result, as is your right. I might well feel the Democrats "scorned" me last November, but I would be wrong. It was a democratic process and they had the votes. The Board deliberated and discussed the serious issues before them for over 18 months. There was disagreement and at times, regrettably, a bit more heat than light. Intelligent, well-meaning people can disagree and occasionally harsh words are spoken. But everyone, without exception, had the best interests of the RPO at heart, as they saw it. In the end some 80% of the Board was in agreement.
The right decision is to support the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for the good of the community and for the treasure it is. We need to move forward. Buy tickets. Write a check. Go hear wonderful music.
Bill has stated the case fully and eloquently as far as the musicians are concerned. The "Climate of Fear" argument is so specious it deserves no further attention. As for Bill's sniffing the air for an unpleasant aroma, may I assure him that no Lysol spray is needed. Maestro Remmereit went into the RPO offices during the Thanksgiving holiday and cleaned out his office. All that was left was a small stuffed U of R mascot on a shelf . This was before any decision to terminate was made. What would you conclude of an employee's intentions if he or she cleans out their office and is not seen again ? Let's be reasonable. More to the point; there were concerts to be rehearsed and performed with deadlines rapidly approaching. Uncertainty was not an option. The Board and the RPO staff moved in the direction they needed to go.
I remain positive. As my wise father would say, "This too shall pass." The RPO is such a jewel it will continue to sparkle. We went to the Thursday concert (Yoav Talmi), and went to hear it again Saturday. On Sunday I cheered Mozart at his birthday bash at Hochstein (Andrew Constantine). The music was superb and even though a number of musicians, sadly, are hardly on speaking terms these days, they set it aside, showed their enormous talent and wowed the audiences at all three performances.
We need to keep in mind that's it's not about personalities or individuals but about the music and the institution. I noted that the "Buttonaires" around me in the audience, and there were some, were every bit as enthusiastic and as enthralled over the programs as those who left the polemic on the sidewalk. Music was the common language. I had the privilege of taking Maestro Talmi to dinner post-concert and speaking with Maestro Constantine. Talmi had flown in from Israel to save the day. Constantine had grabbed his bag and rushed in from Baltimore to help out and lead the RPO. on Sunday Both of these renowned conductors couldn't say enough about our orchestra.
Anyone who urges withholding contributions, returning or not buying tickets or boycotting this treasure in any way cannot claim to value and support the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Of course! And more so, Maestro Remmereit wouldn't come back even if begged to do so, unless most of the Board, the Board Chair, the CEO , a dozen or more musicians and half the RPO staff were led to the dumpster, as in some Stalinist purge. It would certainly cut down on the overhead but wouldn't do much for the good of the institution.
People forget he cleaned out his RPO office some time before the termination never to be seen again at the RPO. So the Grosswirth Group is railing against the wind, hurting the RPO they profess to love and doing their champion no favors, A "Messy Solemnis" for sure.
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