Why Wait?--Why must ticketholders wait a full year before new conductor takes podium?
Thursday, July 1, 1999
Some Monterey Symphony ticket-buyers are now openly questioning the decision to delay the installation of new music director Kate Tamarkin until the fall of 2000, some 15 months and one full subscription season after the announcement of her selection.
Who can blame them? These are the folks who''ve had their hopes raised, and are eager to invest their money and their loyalties in the winning candidate.
Never before has the Monterey Symphony mounted such a seductive campaign as its just-concluded search season, only to suddenly change course to a season of hit-and-run, unknown guest conductors and soloists who will conduct while playing. While the organization spun up a justification, it actually seems that the Monterey Symphony operates from a fundamental distrust of its subscribers. Instead of bringing its constituencies (subscribers, ticket-buyers, funders, the media) into the process, the symphony chose to dictate to them what it decides are "the community''s needs."
This community is perfectly capable of articulating its needs. All the Monterey Symphony had to do was sincerely ask. All it had to do was book a season of dates, work to accommodate Ms. Tamarkin in those dates, engage guest conductors when necessary (it''s done all the time) and make its constituents part of the process. (No, a response card with patronizing questions handed out at last season''s concerts did not achieve that purpose.)
In the management of nonprofit organizations, this defines the difference between those which are community-inclusive and those which are not. While it may not be incumbent on smaller institutions to be community-inclusive, no major nonprofit can claim a leadership role without it.
In an article last week in The New York Times, critic Anthony Tommasini analyzed the significance of the Berlin Philharmonic''s recent choice of Simon Rattle instead of Daniel Barenboim as its music director, Seiji Ozawa''s announcement to depart his quarter-century post with the Boston Symphony in favor of the Vienna State Opera, the selection of Franz Welser-Mst to succeed Christoph von Dohnanyi at the Cleveland Orchestra, and those major orchestras which will look to replace their music directors within the next four years, including New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
Among the many points he raises, Tommasini hits on issues that will now affect the Monterey Symphony, writing, "A music director must be not only a strong conductor and orchestra builder, but also a leader of the cultural community, someone with ties to composers, especially local composers, someone who can reach out to other cultural and education institutions."
In becoming those things for this community, Kate Tamarkin will find herself challenging the insularity of the Monterey Symphony''s board of directors and the concentration of power that has grown around executive director Joseph Truskot.
In the meantime, Ms. Tamarkin may busy herself conducting auditions in the relative vacuum of waiting to take over the artistic leadership of the Monterey Symphony. Audiences will witness a parade of guest conductors with no commitment to our community. And without the force of artistic authority on board, the executive director will continue to consolidate power.
At the Monterey Symphony, it''s going to be a long year.
The Music Teacher''s Association of California will hold its annual convention Friday through Tuesday (July 2-6) at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center in Monterey. Some 4,000 pianists, instrumentalists and vocalists will gather for recitals, master classes, workshops, demonstrations and lectures. Most of the events are open to the public for an admission fee. Among those performing are the Alexander String Quartet (July 3, 8:30pm), pianist Angela Hewitt (July 5, 11:30am and July 6, 10am), duo-pianists Marilyn Neeley and Andrew Gerle (July 2, 2pm), violinist James Stern and pianist Audrey Andrist (July 5, 10am), and soprano Christina Lamberti and tenor Euro Nava (July 4, 3pm). On July 4, 8:30pm, piano competition winners will meet in playoffs. For information, phone (800) 834-3340.
Last Week''s Quiz: In his TV variety show, what esteemed classical musician appeared as different fictional characters, including Sir Nigel Twitt-Thornwaite, "the dean of British conductors"? Answer: Glenn Gould.
This Week''s Quiz: What 20th-century American composer remarked, "The European boys have small ideas but they sure know how to dress ''em up"?
Music Teachers'' Association Friday-Tuesday. Annual convention, including 10 concert recitals, at Hyatt Regency, Mark Thomas Drive, Monterey. (See above) (800) 834-3340.