10/3/09 – Laconia Citizen

Musicians reject Music Festival plan
Center Harbor:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Despite musicians voting overwhelmingly against a new personnel policy they say is unfair, the New Hampshire Music Festival management says it has begun planning its 2010 summer season and hopes the musicians will be there for it.

Both sides, in prepared statements Friday, said they are optimistic that some kind of resolution can be reached.

The musicians’ position, according to the Musicians of the New Hampshire Music Festival at www.nhmfmusicians.org , stems from an announcement earlier this year by the festival management that the musicians would have to reapply for their positions for the 2010 season.

“This reapplication process is unheard-of in the professional music industry,” the musicians said.

Later, negotiations began between them and festival management. The agreement the parties reached, however, was rejected in an online poll completed Sept. 29 in which 62 of 69 musicians voted with 59 of them voting against the proposed personnel policy. Only three voted in favor of the agreement.

The musicians said that, while the agreement removed the re-application requirements, “it provided no protection for the future of longstanding members of the NHMF orchestra.”

They added that the agreement contained language that the orchestra committee had not discussed and that would make employment dependent on funding, with an almost 100 percent increase in workload but only a 25 percent increase in pay.

The musicians’ group said it plans to use “all the resources at our disposal to ensure that our orchestra remains the resident orchestra of the New Hampshire Music Festival. The musicians’ hope is that a new process and dialogue will ensure the continuation of this New England treasure, the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra.”

Meanwhile, the management of the music festival on Friday said Artistic Director Jonathan Gandelsman is working on a Beethoven theme for the 2010 Classics Series while Michael Krajewski is planning the Pops Series.

“The program for this summer is being developed to create excitement for our musicians and our patrons and help us address our goal of expanding our audience base,” the management said, adding, “Toward that end, the festival has been in discussions with its musicians during last summer and in the months since the season ended to ensure that 2010 is a financial and artistic success.”

The rejection of the personnel policy by the musicians was disappointing, said Festival Chair Rusty McLear, “especially since both sides have worked so hard on a personnel policy based on shared interests and common ground.”

He added, “We are baffled that the musicians would reject a personnel policy simply because it is grounded in sound fiscal principles. The festival would be remiss if it guaranteed an expansion of the orchestra and increased compensation without the financial means.”

The festival has said it intends to implement the personnel process that was developed jointly with the musicians’ representatives. McLear said festival musicians have always been hired independently on annual renewable contracts.

“In spite of the vote, we hope that the musicians will decide to return for the 2010 season,” said McLear. “We welcome them to join with us to create an even better, stronger festival that will be a musical destination for audiences and professionals alike.”