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Newspaper asks readers if orchestra manager should be fired

The musical parts of the city of Rochester seem to be split down the middle over the firing of conductor Arild Remmereit. Thirteen of the musicians have published an affectionate letter to the departed conductor (below). His nemesis, Rochester Philharmonic chief executive Charles Owens, got into a Twitter slanging match yesterday with the city newspaper, the Democrat&Chronicle. Today, the D&C asks readers if Owens (right, below) should be fired. Feel free to vote here, one way or other.


An open message to Maestro Arild Remmereit:

We want you to know we share your hopes and vision of a new and exciting future for the RPO.

We are grateful to you for not only broadening our audiences’ concert experience by bringing other arts onstage, but also for your collaboration with us in expanding our repertoire with new and unfamiliar works.

Thank you for the energy and creative spirit you bring to music making, and for engendering a renewed enthusiasm in our audiences.


The following Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Musicians:

Ingrid Bock
David Brickman
Christopher Haritatos
Liana Koteva Kirvan
Kenneth Langley
Margaret Leenhouts
Melissa Matson
Samantha Rodriguez
Charles Ross
Brian Stotz
John Sullivan
Patricia Sunwoo
Perrin Yang

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  1. Maybe, they could switch roles for a day with Arild as CEO, and Charley the new conductor. Then after Charley takes up the baton and screws up (of course), Arild could fire him for cause (of course).

  2. Charles Ogilvy says:

    13 musicians out of more than 80 is not a number of significance. Unless there are other reasons that we don’t know, it would seem Arild does not have anything near a majority of support within the orchestra and if that’s missing there is no hope for him in the future, regardless of what the public might wish or feel.

    At the end the conductor’s relationship with the orchestra must be the first priority because without it memorable concerts are not possible in the long run.

    • Mr. Ogilvy, The letter signed by 13 musicians is a very brave statement, and we cannot know how many others might have wished to sign but felt fearful and intimidated and thus remained silent. Some anti-Remmereit rumors have been propagated by management (presumably at the instigation of Owens) specifically to undermine Remmereit’s relationship with the orchestra.

      For instance at one point Remmereit gave the musicians’ Personnel Manager a list of several musicians who Remmereit wished to meet with individually in order to discuss aspects of their technique that he felt needed improvement. This is entirely within the union regulations and also accepted convention. Remmereit can meet individually with a musician and the musician can have both the Personnel Manager and the Musicians Union rep. there at the meeting; the Music Director has every right to do this to try to try and improve the level of musicianship among the players. But the Personnel Manager did not keep Remmereit’s wishes confidential, and the story somehow was twisted and spread by management into the claim that Remmereit had a “hit-list”, a list of 15 musicians that Remmereit wanted fired. That version of the story of course created great anxiety and hostility among the musicians and defensiveness from the section leaders. Not only is the story wrong, but it also assumes that Remmereit is stupid and doesn’t know how the Union works! *I* know how the Union works and *I* have never been a professional musician — you can’t just fire anyone!!

      So here is an instance of Remmereit doing everything correctly, of wanting to work with the musicians individually to build the orchestra into a stronger ensemble; instead his actions were distorted and used against him, used to destroy the loyalty of the musicians.

      If management was on Remmereit’s side, working with him instead of trying to subvert his vision, the occasional and inevitable conflicts with the musicians could be worked out instead of being inflamed or even created. As former-RPO patron Betty Strasenburg has repeatedly stated, Charlie Owens was out to fire Remmereit before he ever picked up the baton as Music Director. Owens is the source of the problems, and there will continue to be problems of this nature as long as he is in power.

      • @Liane Curtis said, “As former-RPO patron Betty Strasenburg has repeatedly stated, Charlie Owens was out to fire Remmereit before he ever picked up the baton as Music Director.”

        Has there been any information as to why Mr. Owens holds AR in such disregard?

      • Wesley Nance says:

        I would like to point out that Ms. Curtis has no connection to the RPO, is not a musician, and has probably attended fewer than five RPO concerts. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) I am baffled that she is speaking as an expert and insider in the workings of the RPO, especially the relationship between RPO musicians and Arild Remmereit, which I am almost certain she never witnessed firsthand.

        I have spoken to at least one of the musicians who signed the letter who doesn’t see it in the “courageous” and “risky” light that it is being viewed by some on this blog. He feels comfortable conveying those things to Mr. Remmereit. The letter does nothing to challenge the board’s decision, nor does it call into question the work of Betsy Rice or Charles Owens. What’s so brave about it?

        I will confirm John Sullivan’s account that this letter was not made available to all of the musicians of the RPO. I never saw it, or was invited to sign. In my opinion, this is how many in this group of musicians prefers to operate- outside the normal union structure, avoiding working through the elected union representatives of the orchestra (elected by majority vote, with most members of the union orchestra committee receiving upwards of 60 votes of the 80 possible), and instead operating as “rogue” musicians, taking their decidedly minority opinion straight to the media for maximum effect, much like the 3 RPO board members who resigned in the wake of the 20-5 vote to terminate Mr. Remmereit’s contract.

        I would also like to debunk the “climate of fear” I keep reading about in this discussion thread, and others, which is used as an explanation about why more RPO musicians aren’t speaking out in support of Mr Remmereit. Some even claim they fear for their jobs. First, we, as musicians in the RPO, have a union contract, and a tenure process. I believe that all but one of the 13 musicians that signed the letter have tenure. I have been a member of the RPO for 27 years, and in that time not one musician has been fired. I have witnessed some of my colleagues try valiantly to be fired with all sorts of fantastic behaviors, but so far during my tenure none have been successful. So I very much call into question the reality of such a position. I would even say that I believe that it is virtually impossible for a musician to be fired from the RPO. The 13 musicians who signed the letter have every right to that opinion, or even the opinion that the letter doesn’t state, that they disagree with the board’s decision and instead hold Ms. Rice and Mr. Owens responsible. They won’t be fired for it.

        Finally, I will state that I support the board’s decision. I was chair of the RPO orchestra committee from 2010-2012, and as such was involved constantly in the day to day operations of the RPO, working in close quarters with Arild Remmereit, Charles Owens, Betsy Rice, the RPO staff, other members of the RPO board, and the musicians of the RPO. Mr. Remmereit was just not difficult, he was nigh near impossible to work with in administrative matters. Things like turning programs in on time, responding to requests from the staff, working collaboratively with the marketing and development departments, etc., just didn’t happen. Not to mention that he tried to have two consecutive board chairs removed and sent word last January that he wouldn’t return from holiday in Vienna unless Mr. Owens was terminated immediately. Despite what you may have read in the press, or even on these forums, his termination had very little to do with his on stage behavior and very much to do with what he was (or wasn’t, as the case may be) doing offstage.

        I have been quite frustrated by my colleagues John Sullivan, Ingrid Bock, and David Brickman, who, while having the luxury of simply showing up to work, playing, and leaving (since they weren’t willing to serve in other capacities such as orchestra committee or artistic advisory committee, etc) have, at every turn, tried to marginalize the input of those of us who served in these elected positions, gave hundreds of hours of our time, and who had real interaction with the music director off of the podium.

        I ask this forum to reconsider the weight which you give their opinion in this matter.


        Wesley Nance
        Second Trumpet, RPO

        • I am grateful for the candour and the civil tone that have been maintained in discussions of these painful and divisive issues at the RPO. Rochester can be proud of musicians who comport themselves with such dignity.

          • It is a credit to you, Norman Lebrecht that a musician who has ridiculed Maestro Remmereit and his supporters on other websites, on the RPO’s own Facebook Page, and in his comments attached to local newspaper articles, has authored a calm statement, save for the jibes at Dr. Liane Curtis.

            Mr. Nance’s remarks do raise a question; exactly who in the RPO’s musical constellation has the right to have an opinion about Arild Remmereit’s firing, and the ensuing public relations disaster?

            Dr. Curtis, who represents a society for the furtherance of women composers, and was so impressed by Remmereit’s consistently innovative programming that an award was created to be bestowed on him and the orchestra? According to trumpeter Nance – NO! She is not from ‘around here,’ hasn’t attended enough RPO concerts to know anything, and she’s not a member of the orchestra.

            What about audience members, season ticket holders and former donors, patrons and Board members? According to Mr. Nance, NO! They are not musicians in the RPO, therefore they are incapable of any legitimate judgment on this subject.

            And finally, Ingrid Bock, David Brickman and John Sullivan, decades long musicians in the orchestra, merely do their jobs and go home like most employed people on the planet. They do not slave in the trenches of orchestra committees as does the writer. And they have not volunteered to be on committees that do not take volunteers; they have not asked other orchestra members to nominate them and vote for them. NO! says trumpeter and good orchestra citizen Nance. They too, have no right to have an opinion about decisions and events that are tearing the musicians apart, discouraging audience members and costing the RPO: loss of donor money, and ever-mounting legal fees.

            I ask Mr. Nance – who is left to bear the sacred knowledge of what has REALLY gone on? I suppose it must be trumpeter Nance and his cadre of orchestra members. He has patiently explained why it is NONE of anybody else’s business.

          • Edmund Francis Jr. says:

            Mr. or Ms. “Seen It”

            A couple of observations from someone who makes no claims to knowing what’s really going on in this situation.

            First, it seems clear that Mr. Nance is an “insider” . To that extent I respect his point of view and the impressions he states he gathered from direct and on-going interaction with the major players in this drama. While he has made it plain that he feels those orchestra members who hold opposing views do not possess his level of experience in this matter I do not see that he has claimed to be either the fount of all wisdom nor the guardian of any Sacred Truths. Nor has he given any indication that this situation is nobody else’s business but his.

            Secondly, he has set our his views in a logical manner. He believes that there is no “climate of fear” , or perhaps more correctly, that there should be no fear by any RPO musician of being fired simply because they support Remmereit and oppose the board’s actions. His arguments appear to be cogent. For myself I would like to see the what evidence those who believe that a “climate of fear” does in fact exist have to offer.

            Lastly, Mr. Nance has presented his views openly and not anonymously. Perhaps his critics could do the same?

            Since November there has been much smoke but very little heat generated by both the pro-Remmereit and the pro-board factions. As each side seeks to garner support they would be well advised to use these public forums to back up their views with their credentials, with facts and with logical arguments. IMHO Mr. Nance has done so. If those who disagree with his views wish to be taken seriously they must now do the same.

          • Interesting in this thread that some get to tell the rest of us who is ‘credible’ and who is not. Of course, that is an appeal to authority, which happens to be a fallacy of logic.

          • Jon Eckleben says:

            I agree with Ms. Brown’s point, and also question the logic that those who serve on committees, get elected as representatives, etc., are necessarily more reliable narrators than those who haven’t.

          • I also agree with Ms. Brown and Mr. Eckleben.

            Mr. Nance and others in this thread may be interested to know that the “person” who praises his writing and logic:

            “Lastly, Mr. Nance has presented his views openly and not anonymously. Perhaps his critics could do the same? -Edmund Francis, Jr.”

            - has also used Chiam DeLoye, Bill Benson, and at 2 other pseudonyms while pursuing the musicians and others who support Arild Remmereit to this international classical music forum. He normally operates on the fringes of the Rochester, NY alternative weekly, “City,” but has somehow been drawn to this to this battle, so that he has stepped out of his comfort zone, and his posts have been almost civil.

            I am unsure whether to find it hilarious, or sadly ironic that this/these person/people chastise ME for remaining anonymous. As they say, I have a “dog in the race,” and have solid reasons for being “Seen It.” He seems to have come to ‘Slipped Disc’ to make fools of us all.

          • Jon Eckleben says:

            I’ve wondered whether some of these names might indeed be aliases for board supporters, or even board members. but hadn’t considered they might all be one and the same–interesting. I was fairly certain that “Baghead” had evolved into one of these later personalities.

          • Jon,
            ‘Baghead?” Guess I haven’t been coming to this blog long enough to have seen that name. But let’s not give the chimera any name ideas.

        • Edmund Francis Jr. says:

          Wesley Nance:

          An excellent letter. First time I’ve seen either side set down so clearly and succintly their observations based on their direct involvement with the chief actors in this tragicomedy. Most of what we’ve heard has been rumor, innuendo and third hand skuttlebutt.

          It will be most helpful and informative if someone who is supporting the maestro over the board, and who possesses equal “insider” knowledge would now come forward and give us their views.

        • Edmund Francis Jr. says:

          Mr. or Ms. “Seen It”

          So we have a situation where you, someone who for whatever curious or questionable reason seeks anonymity and declines to post under your own name, is accusing me of masquerading as somebody else (or more ludicrously, as a gang of somebody elses). Would it be untoward to request that you back up such an allegation with something a bit more substantial then billingsgate?

          Of course the utilization of decoys, red herrings, and off-topic diversions is a fine old practice for those unable or unwilling to counter an argument or add anything positive to a discussion, so I am not surprised to see such tactics trotted out in this forum.

          Will we perhaps be seeing the rise of a Remmereit “birther” movement under which his supporters may hide behind an unimaginative nom de plume, but those who are unwilling to demonize Owens, Rice of the RPO board must provide a copy of their birth certificate before they can express an opinion?

          As to making fools of some here, those who engage in this sort of conspiracy theory require no assistance from me (from us?) in that regard.

          • With all due respect, it seems to me that ‘Seen It’ is attempting to define a somewhat elusive scenario for the rest of us. That doesn’t seem to be quite the same thing as working as a sock puppet under an alias and lobbing grenades.

            Also, is any criticism of Mr. Owens ‘demonizing’? Is there something wrong with attempting to define why he seems to have had antipathy to AR? After all, it is AR who is gone; Mr. Owens still has his job.

          • Edmund Francis Jr. says:

            Pamela Brown –

            Or perhaps I might say “Seen It” …or maybe “Jon Eckleben”… or for all I know “Arild Remmereit”? How do we know that these appelations don’t all have a common origin? All we have for ANY poster here is the tactic understanding that they are who they claim to be.

            If you or “Seen It” for example are operating under multiple alias how would we know? But I forgot. Those who see the RPO board as the epitome of all evils and view this situation in only black and white are above questioning , while those who see the world in color and who dare to disturb the placid weaters of certitude must be trolls.

            And so it goes…(Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five….and no, I;m not him either as he died in 2007)

          • What purpose would there be for one using their own name and acknowledging that they are an outsider to this situation to then jump to add an alias claiming to be an insider?

            Wait…I am sure @Edmund will think of something!

          • Ms. Brown,

            Thank you for your brief lesson in logic. When outed, Mr, Francis-Benson-DeLoye-Smith and G-d knows who else uses an old, threadbare tactic: you’re another.

            I hate to waste readers’ time and space on Norman’s blog to reprint my Google searches which easily unmask this troll. Feel free to do so yourselves. Look on FB for these “people” and find that they have no information, no real photos and were born between November 2012 and Jan. 2013. Then draw your own conclusions.

            Let’s not be pulled away from the real topic – the future of the RPO – by entities that want attention for themselves, and don’t truly care about the musical issue at hand. Go to to see today’s editorial (its 2nd) about the necessity for a real overhaul at the RPO.

          • Enough of the brickbats, please. Stick to the issues.

          • Edmund Francis Jr. says:

            Mr. Lebrecht – You are correct that these attempts to divert attention from the issue at hand are getting tiresome. For my part I regret having wasted my time responding to such provocations.

            As to the issues, for those who have forgotten, at the beginning of this string, and in response to Wesley Nance’s original post, I stated the following….

            “As each side seeks to garner support they would be well advised to use these public forums to back up their views with their credentials, with facts and with logical arguments. IMHO Mr. Nance has done so. If those who disagree with his views wish to be taken seriously they must now do the same.”

            To date all we have had from the pro-Remmereit forces are allegations, innuendos,suspicions, and conspiracy theories…and very few facts. Now would seem to be the time to produce those, assuming they exist.

    • Mr. Ogilvy, You may be right, but It’s not over until the fat lady sings, and right now there are serious allegations that the voting to poll the musicians was tampered with. Speaking out publicly is not easy to do when there is a risk that management will fire you, so a proper vote count will be essential to measure the sentiment of the musicians.

  3. Jon Eckleben says:

    Bravo, RPO musicians. It took guts to speak out and take a stand. We salute you and thank you for the way you have enriched our community with your beautiful music.

  4. Wing-chi Chan says:

    Management of both RPO and Minnesota should be totally phased out ASAP. If not, the Boards of both orchestras could be sued for wasting of tax-exempt funds that supposed to be monitored tightly under Form 990. Both Board should be taken the liability and contested by the public for a lawful and fair management of their revenue income under the 501 (c) (3) incorporation structure. Both entity is NOT a privately own business incorporation that could be capriciously abused by small group of monsters. When a Board of orchestra spent over 10 millions for concert-hall innovation (Its funds were raised for performance) but has locked out the musicians for quite a few months, it could be considered a case of cheating or stealing public fund. When one CEO abused his one-man power to fire a conductor, the Board could be liable for violating of Equal-Opportunity laws for discrimination of age, gender, race and else. For both cases, where are the musician unions? Union of both state may take action for filing complaint on labor law issue.

  5. Chaim DeLoye says:

    This RPO ‘fear factor” that certain parties keep referring to is a chimera and the reddest of red herrings. No one has yet identified a single instance in which an RPO musician was dismissed, or even chided, warned or threatened by any member of the RPO management for publicly or privately opposing the actions of Owens or any board member or RPO executive.

    As to the “Open message to Maestro Arild Remmereit”, can anyone point to a single statement or sentiment with which Owens or Rice have ever disagreed? Hard to see what guts it takes to sign a letter as uncontroversial as this one.

    Actually the letter does raise one interesting question. Since fear was not a factor that prevented any RPO musician from signing, why did only 13 out of 80 do so? Could it be that the vast majority simply were not in agreement with its praises and premises?

  6. Stephen Carpenter says:

    First off. 13 out of 80 is a significant number. A general rule I followed for years in dealing with diverse groups was this. 10% (that would be 8 in this case) would be pre-sidposed to be with you. 10% (that would be 8 in this case) would be pre-disposed to be against you) and the rest was a silent blend of the two poles, malleable and silent.

    Second. People who are co-erced are rarely subjected to overt action. Coercion is the threat of the exercise of power from those who can exercise it.

    Third. A bully is a bully whether he or she is chronologically 8 years old or 48 years old. A bully is also in moist cases afraid and lacking in self-confidence in the deepest and darkest of the hours when all one has is his or herself with no pretense. I’d like to hope that t would be inevitable that the charade of “managment” would collide with “cooperation” and that “cooperation” would win but it’s looking like “management” will not yield gracefully or soon. to “cooperation” in any form.


    • Chaim DeLoye says:

      Stephen Carpenter –

      This attempt to argue that outspoken musicians should fear reprisals from RPO management even though the threat remains unsubstantiated is nothing new. Similar illogical claims have been trotted out in the past…..

      “There are indications that they are organized and ready for concerted action…. The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.”

      ~ Lt. General John L. DeWitt, Commanding General of the Western Defense Command providing his unique rationale for the internment of Japanese Americans – Feb. 1942

      • @Chaim DeLoye says,”This attempt to argue that outspoken musicians should fear reprisals from RPO management even though the threat remains unsubstantiated is nothing new”

        The undeniable fact is that these players are speaking out in their own names without knowing what effect doing so could have on their employment, their relationship with the union, or their careers.

        Why try to divert the readers from this by minimizing the courageous stand they have taken?

  7. I’m interested to know who precisely has the power to fire:
    a) The RPO Board of Directors
    b) CEO Charles Owens

    • I would ask the same question about the MO and Michael Henson.

    • Rosalind,

      To answer your questions,

      a) They have to be replaced through election. It would take 3 years to turn over the entire board, which may not be necessary.

      b) The Board of Directors

      One hopes that the time has come for some non-rabid board members to want to remove themselves from this mess. I expect to see some resignations for “personal reasons” very soon.

      Regardless of the outcome of the local paper’s unscientific poll, when the daily paper in your community is speculating about your being fired, you are being ridiculed. For the sake of the RPO and the musicians, I hope that the CEO will come to the same conclusion. It can’t happen too soon, and for the life of me, I can’t think of any uncorrupt reason why the Board is keeping him.

  8. John Sullivan says:

    Please allow me to set something straight. I was not only one of the signers, but the one who crafted the statement. I had to revise it several times per the suggestions/objections of several colleagues. Some would not sign unless I removed certain language. Some would not sign unless I revised it this way or that. It therefore ended up a very much a group effort.

    Though one colleague who signed said of the final version that “anyone who wouldn’t put their name on this is a so and so”, I still could not get some people who opposed the firing to commit. Some didn’t even bother to respond. Some preferred sending Arild a personal message. A few thought it would further divide the orchestra. One suggested I present the statement to the whole orchestra to sign.

    This last idea was the most intriguing. While plausible at a glance, I objected to it for the following reasons:

    1) The virtual certainty that the most rabidly outspoken of my anti-Remmereit colleagues would refuse to sign.

    2) The strong possibility that the above-mentioned would discourage others from signing.

    3) The desire to avoid giving an easy out to certain colleagues who have posted some very nasty comments about the Maestro. These people, by any standard of decency, owe Arild Remmereit an apology. In the unlikely event they did sign, it would cheapen the sincerity of the message to include the names of his unabashed enemies.

    Sure, I had hoped for more signers. But it was a statement, not a poll. For every constituent that writes a representative about an issue, the rule of thumb is that there are 100 more with consonant views. I’d prefer to see the 13 of us in a similar light.

  9. Charles Ogilvy says:

    I checked the RPO website and counted the official musicians listed there – over 100 musicians. 13 out of 100 is simple not a good enough number that shows any significant support for Arild.

    I also don’t understand what is so brave about signing a letter in support of the Maestro when it is also clear from the comments above that musicians cannot be fired just like that due to the unions. So what fear do the other 87 musicians have if their jobs are secure?

    I don’t know a professional orchestra in this planet who would keep quiet if they felt strongly enough that a conductor who they loved and was absolutely indispensable to them was fired. I suppose the crucial word here is “felt STRONGLY enough”. I cannot believe they would keep quiet. On the contract, they would collectively speak out and that would carry a weight which would be hard to ignore. Moreoever, we are speaking about musicians who are US citizens who have freedom of speech. From some comments you would think the musicians are in a communist or suppressed country, which they are not.

    And the explanation of Ms Curtis although admirable does not really shed good light on the Maestro’s way to deal with artistic matters. Sorry, but if you have to speak to musicians you go to them personally directly and arrange to meet them in an interval of a rehearsal or something like that and you don’t get managers to do the dirty work for you. That’s just bad management from the conductor’s side. Ms Curtis is right – musicians usually appreciate a conductor who wants to improve their ensemble but not in that style. Of course it upset many musicians, but that’s not anybody’s fault other than the Maestro’s. He should have known better. Conductors are not just artists, they also have to know how to get the best of their musicians off stage too.

    To me it is a clear case that the orchestra is not behind Arild and some musicians want to push what is not pushable.

    Let’s see what the fat lady will sing, but my guess is it won’t be a different tune to what it is now. Perhaps Owens will go, but that is about it.

    • Mr. Ogilvy,

      We are not in a communist or suppressed country, but the musicians and employees past and present are involved with a corrupted organization with tentacles deep into the music world in this region, and plenty of threat.

      The RPO union is actually a local that represents all union musicians in the region, local 66 of the AFM. The Union President/Secretary/Treasurer has been said to be in collusion with management, and there appears to be proof of this charge. So, realistically, musicians who do not side with this person are justifiably concerned about the ability to be recommended for outside gigs, organized ostracizing within their orchestra jobs, pressure from management, being unablepermission to take time off to fill in or guest at another orchestra, etc. etc. It may be hard to credit, but when the people who are charged with protecting you so you can participate in your professional career are no longer doing so, it is a frightening and lonely feeling.

      Since you have no information about the details of the Maestro’s contract, or how this orchestra has operated, you cannot know that it is perfectly normal to work with the personnel manager (himself a musician) to speak individually with members. And because of the union, if musicians wish, the P.D. may be present at these meetings.

      Either the RPO website or your counting are not accurate, 100 musicians? There are core musicians with “A” contacts, others with “B” contracts, part timers, fillins, and students at the Eastman School of Music who are sometimes used at the back of a section in a given concert, which is a requirement for some degrees.

      Clearly, if this were cut and dried, there would not be endless comments on this subject. And well-meaning folks from the other side of the pond, like you, wouldn’t be so ready to jump in with your assumptions.

  10. Bill Benson says:

    In case nobody noticed, the results of this poll (2,121 votes) are:

    54% to retain Owens

    18% to give him 6 months to “turn things around”

    10% who apparently don’t care one way ot the other

    …and the percentage who want him fired…DRUMROLL …a pathetic 18% !

    Guess the people have spoken ! So can we wrap this farce up and get on to somethng important?

    • Mr. Benson: Regardless of the outcome of the local paper’s unscientific poll, when the daily paper in your community is speculating about your being fired, you are being ridiculed. For the sake of the RPO and the musicians, I hope that the CEO will come to the same conclusion. It can’t happen too soon, and for the life of me, I can’t think of any uncorrupt reason why the Board is keeping him.

      These polls are casual, 1 vote for 1 computer browser, not person. Management, the Board and its allies in business have access to many more computers with multiple browsers than do the folks who support Maestro Remmereit and want change in how the RPO is run.

      The audience and many donors are speaking with their purses – they are keeping them closed. For an organization with a $750.000 deficit, is it wise to ignore the financial hobbling they are giving themselves? They are also offering unprecedented discounts to concerts that normally fill themselves, and running much more advertising than is normal for winter. These actions are taken to try to cover the true community attitude toward their firing Arild Remmereit, by filling seats at any cost, even though it lowers their net income. Exactly who is upholding their fiduciary responsibilities? Not the Board, and certainly not management..

      • Jon Eckleben says:

        “Seen it”:

        I agree with the sentiment of your third paragraph; I’ve been thinking much the same…

        I can’t wait to see the 2013-2014 schedule and the selection of guest conductors to fill the bill. Or maybe I can wait…

      • Bill Benson says:

        Seen It, I don’t recall stating that this poll was scientific or accurately represented the views of the Rochester public at large or more importantly the views of those who pay to attend concerts or otherwise financially support the RPO. It’s just a poll like any poll where an unrestricted universe of respondents determine the outcome. But that being said I think we can safely assume that had the vote been 54% to dismiss Owens and only 18% to retain him then the results would have been trumpeted (so to speak) by those wishing him gone and questions as to its accuracy would not have been raised.

        As to the significance and value to this question of the D&C’s editorials, etc. I’d remind you that this is the same paper which twice backed the infamous Fast Ferry. So the D&C’s friendship should be kept in perspective. Remember what Warren Harding said, ” I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights! .

  11. Liane Curtis’ description above is very accurate. From their earliest training, orchestra musicians are taught and conditioned to work in highly regimented, steeply heirarchical organizations under the absolute authority of someone whose gestures and even facial expressions must be scrupulously followed. Orchestras are thus known for their homegenity, their abhorence of breaking ranks, and their insularity regarding outsiders and communications with them. When 13 sign a public petition of protest of any sort it is thus noteworthy.

    In the management of orchestras, it is almost always best to leave artistic decisions to the artists of the organization, or at the very least in close consultation with them. And yet a new management style is evolving in which administrators take a heavy-handed approach to intruding in these matters, such as here with the attempts to fire a conductor. This is a decision the musicians should have made, or at the very least in close consultation with *all* of them – something that was obviously not done. When this prinicple of letting the artists make the artistic decisions is violated, we often see orchestras torn apart.

  12. With all due respect in return, @Chaim, are the statements that Mr. Owens said he would have AR out in a year ‘demonizing’ or a matter of record? Is AR fair game but Mr. Owens is not? Is it not a diversion again to change the subject from minimizing the significance of those players who signed their names in support of AR to those dreadful players who are trying to besmirch the name of poor Mr. Owens? :-0

  13. Whatever the precise truth about what has or has not happened over the past months at the RPO, I just know that if I was a conductor looking for a music director position in the USA, I’d be steering a wide berth of this organisation.

    • Edmund Francis Jr. says:


      You are correct. In addition to which the RPO committee responsible for interviewing and recommending a replacement candidate will be so gun shy that their selection process could take a VERY LONG time.

  14. This entire situation is revolting. It is inconceivable to me how enthusiastically everyone has been inviting the press into this sordid drama. Nobody comes out of this looking good, and I hope it doesn’t lead to the ruin of the orchestra. How will they get a decent conductor now? How do they explain away the public animosity in grant proposals and sponsorship pitches? These people seem to revel in being part of a sad public soap opera.

  15. Harold Jewell says:

    I am stunned and outraged that the RPO would find itself in this dirty, unthinkable mess. I have never heard of such a thing. I pray that the orchestra somehow survives this ugly situation. It will not do so if this bickering and finger-pointing continues. Mark me.

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