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Conservatory chief begs Atlanta to talk peace

Peter Witte, dean of the conservatory of music and dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, sent the following heartfelt letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. They failed to publish it. We do so instead. Read, and weep.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Letters to the Editor 

letters@ajc.com

 

Dear Editors:

With a reported $600,000 distance on a roughly $40M budget, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s management and musicians are in accord on 98.5% of their next contract, a statistical agreement.

These next steps are delicate because they are about the ASO’s identity as much as its finances.

In 1973, Robert Shaw hired my father.  Today, my Dad helps anchor one of America’s storied horn sections.  Most importantly, he is part of a generation of Atlantans who helped to grow the ASO into an internationally regarded and locally committed band.

I consider the ASO family. In the front office and on stage are my friends, colleagues, mentors, and heroes.  During my time as Chair of the Department of Music at Kennesaw State University, I was blessed to work with twelve ASO musicians who served on KSU’s faculty, and with the gifted ASO managers who partnered with us to get thousands of KSU students to the ASO every year.

For many, the ASO is Atlanta’s finest team.  From Bartow to Berlin, the ASO exemplifies Atlanta’s Olympian spirit.  Like its home city, the ASO is greater than its current challenges.

Atlanta has made great strides toward becoming a destination city, rubbing shoulders with Chicago, London, Barcelona, and Los Angeles.  The ASO family led the way, recording for Telarc and Deutsche Grammophon, performing in Vienna and Vinings, making a difference from Ebenezer to Ojai.

For more than six decades, past and current boards, administrators, and musicians flexed and pushed to advance Atlanta’s finest team, making new opportunities and negotiating obstacles.

More than it fights about these last dollars, I hope the entire ASO family will treasure its relationships, among musicians and managers, with sister organizations in the Woodruff Arts Center, and in the city it celebrates.

To her community, and for her leaders, music director, staff, and musicians, the ASO is more than a job.  It is a calling.

Especially now, Robert Shaw’s choral salutation is a gentle reminder.

The ASO is Dear People.

 

Peter Witte, Dean

Conservatory of Music and Dance

University of Missouri-Kansas City

 

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Comments

  1. Tamara Meinecke says:

    I wonder if they will also fail to publish the letter from the baseball players supporting the orchestra players. Unbelievable.

  2. I can only applaud Dean Witte’s clearly heartfelt and beautifully written letter…..As I have observed this contractual impasse at some distance, I have wanted to comment but felt it was perhaps not my place….but Dean Witte has inspired me to write.
    I had the singular honour and great good pleasure to perform as tenor soloist in Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with the Orchestra last season, in performances in Atlanta and at Carnegie Hall. I was simply astounded at the level of playing, at the commitment, the professionalism and high standards, and at the joy of great music making with this ensemble, and its currrent leader Robert Spano…..This is an orchestra of absolutely the first rank, in a city that aspires to that rank as well…..It was very impressive to see how many Atlantans came to Carnegie Hall for the performance and I was impressed with the number of business leaders from Atlanta who were there, and celebrating their business’ New York connections.
    I am not in a position to judge the parties or the positions of those involved in the negotiations – the players, the Symphony Board, and as I understand it the Board of the Meyerson Concert Hall…..
    But I do understand that treating musicians of the absolutely first rank, who have given so much to Atlanta and to the Atlanta Symphony in such a cavalier way (cutting medical insurance, and access to the hall)….all while jeopardizing the continued health and welfare on one of Atlanta’s great treasures, is cruel, and short-sighted.
    Hoping that someone can bridge what now seems to be the smallest of gaps, I am,

    John Mac Master, New York and Toronto

  3. Stephen Proser says:

    The photo is of Thomas Witte, extraordinary horn player with the Atlanta Symphony and the father of Peter Witte.

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