To: The Musicians of the 2009 New Hampshire Music Festival
From: David Graham and Henry Fogel
Date: July 13, 2009
We are very discouraged by the actions taken by many musicians during the first week of the Festival. These actions were clearly designed to disrupt the Festival and convince our ticket holders and patrons that the Festival Leadership Team is not acting in their best interests or perceived best interests. But these actions will not change the decisions we have made to embark on a different path in the future:
We will go forward with re-creating the Festival to make it more relevant to our audience.
We will implement a process to select the musicians for next season.
Our preference remains that you receive the first opportunity to play next summer.
We will appoint professionals on the Selection Committee who will conduct evaluations in a fair way.
We offered you ideas on how to shape that process to assure you that the evaluations will be impartial and free of bias. This included having your own observer attend and participate in each of the evaluations.
Our offer to resume the dialogue remains open.
The New Hampshire Music Festival will continue to perform this summer and for many summers to come.
Actions by Musicians
Some of you continue to communicate misleading and, frankly, false statements to your fellow musicians and to our patrons and ticket holders. By disrupting our concerts and misleading our patrons, musicians could financially weaken the Festival and alienate our audiences. Perhaps those of you who have no intentions to be part of the Festival in the future don’t care about what happens to the Festival going forward. But your actions can only harm your fellow musicians who do continue to see themselves as part of the Festival of the future.
Some of these behaviors have been rude and disrespectful, reflecting a lack of common decency toward those who have worked hard to ensure the success of the Festival. While we understand that some musicians may disagree with our decision, it is never appropriate to show a lack of respect for your fellow employees. We urge all of you who disagree to express yourselves with respect for others and for the institution of which you continue to be a part.
While many of you have engaged in a vigorous communication with our audience, all of you have refused to engage in a dialogue with us. You are missing the opportunity to collaborate with us in designing as fair a process as we, collectively, are able — while still achieving the Festival’s vision to provide a more enriching experience for musicians and audience alike.
Keeping Communications Open
We invited all of you to a second meeting last Thursday. Valerie Watts, the Chair of your Orchestra Committee, told us that the meeting was unnecessary. Based on our meeting of Tuesday, we believed further communication was necessary and distributed the outline of points we would have made to you had the meeting taken place. We continue to ask Valerie to suggest other ways to continue the dialogue and she has not been responsive.
Planning Week 2 of the Festival
Last week, an attorney with whom the Orchestra Committee had consulted contacted us. He advised us that the orchestra voted last Wednesday to withhold their services beginning this week. We have asked Valerie if there is a collective intent of the musicians to withhold their services for Thursday’s performance. She neither confirmed it nor denied it. Nevertheless, we continue to offer to keep the dialogue open. Indeed, any musician can approach any one of us at anytime and either of us is willing to answer any questions and listen to your input.
Please understand that we believe we have no choice but to go forward with the Summer 2009 season, with or without those musicians with whom we have contracted to perform. Our strong preference is to continue as we all had intended when we contracted with each of you for the season. Individually, you have the right to choose what is in your best interest. But in considering what is in your best interest, please keep in mind that if any of you decide to withhold your services, we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that we mount the orchestra complement that is necessary to meet our obligations to our audiences, many of whom have already purchased tickets. If that requires us to hire other musicians for the balance of the Summer 2009 season, we will do so.
We have invited ALL of you to consider becoming a part of our future. That choice is yours to make.
July 13, 2009
New Hampshire Music Festival
None of the Musicians who are participating in this summer festival will be renewed in the Summer of 2010.
All of you are being given the first opportunity to be selected to play in the Festival orchestra in the future. No decision has been made as to any individual musician. Once we determine which of you decide to participate in the process and which of you are selected, then and only then will we proceed to hire other musicians to fill out the complement necessary to mount the Summer 2010 season
The Festival is eliminating its Resident Orchestra
As in the past, we will continue to have a resident orchestra at the New Hampshire Music Festival.
The Festival is not being honest with us when it says it is changing its mission; this is a ruse to eliminate all of us from the Festival’s future
This is not a ruse at all. The Festival is experiencing erosion in our classical music audience. We must add excitement and freshness to the concerts if we are to win back those who have left us and attract new audiences.
We are treating musicians with disrespect by asking you to apply for a position next summer.
We have the utmost respect for each of you and the contributions you have made to the Festival. But as we move forward, we will ask you to demonstrate talents and capabilities you have not been asked to demonstrate in the past. We must be assured that you, first, have an interest in participating; and, second, that you have the capability to perform in this new environment. We expect higher standards, longer hours and a much more engaged commitment that in the past.
The Festival is talking about the 21st Century Musician: this means it is abandoning the classical repertoire and will concentrate on only contemporary music in the future.
We have no intentions to abandon the classical repertoire. Our emphasis is to enliven the creative process of making music. This will make rehearsals and performances for our musicians more artistically challenging and the experience of attending concerts more exciting for our audiences.