July 23, 2009
Mr. Henry Fogel, Mr. David Graham:
I have delayed writing this letter to you in the hopes that my anger at your unbelievable behavior toward the NHMF Musicians would subside. It has not, however. After attending the absolutely wonderful performance last night by this group of Musicians that you appear to deem less than professional, I will try to convey to you my feelings in as thoughtful and calm a manner as possible.
Your letter of July 1, 2009 to “us,” the patrons, stated that the future direction of the orchestra is to be “choosing performers precisely for their approach to music-making, one that is centered on a collaborative approach and that is bound firmly with the emotional content of the music – then communicating that emotional content with as much impact as possible.” Gentlemen, I saw you in the audience last night. Did you NOT hear what I heard last night and at the previous two performances of this Orchestra? It is beyond my comprehension how you both could sit in the same audience as I and think that this group of Musicians is anything short of spectacular! You already HAVE highly skilled Musicians from some of the greatest Orchestras in this country making up the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra! They are a close-knit group of professionals who collaborate every week to bring us the utmost in musical enjoyment, playing music from a wide variety of periods and styles in musical history. What more do you want?
I love classical music. I have been to concerts by the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops, and the New York Philharmonic. I have been to opera performances by the Metropolitan Opera both at the Met, at Lincoln Center, and in Boston. I have also attended opera performances in Rome and Florence, Italy. I have heard great musicians play great music in many different venues. I have been a season subscriber to the NHMF since moving to New Hampshire in 2001. I can honestly say, the NHMF performances I have heard for the past eight years are as good as, if not better than, any I have heard in the aforementioned places. If there is a problem of attendance, with empty seats, it is not the fault of the Orchestra! Perhaps you gentlemen need to address the marketing issue. The NHMF may be the best-kept secret in New Hampshire! I talked with people last night who were attending for the first time as guests of subscribers saying they have lived in New Hampshire for some time, and they had never heard of the NHMF before their friends invited them.
I am not even going to go into the manner in which you dropped your “bombshell” of change on us, and the Musicians. However, I am going to totally disagree with you that asking a group of professional Musicians to “reapply” for a position by submitting the various items you have demanded is common occurrence. IT IS NOT! I am a retired professional educator. I taught in higher education for forty years in the area of teacher preparation. We taught our pre-professional students how to develop professional portfolios demonstrating their work. It is commonplace for a first year teacher to present a portfolio when applying for a job. It might be appropriate for a novice teacher applying for a different position to do the same. However, had I been asked by my Dean or Vice President for Academic Affairs to present my portfolio to return to my current position in my thirtieth year, I would have had the same reaction as our Musicians have had. The procedure you have outlined is entirely appropriate for interviewing and hiring NEW musicians for this Orchestra, but totally inappropriate for returning members!
Finally, I am extremely concerned that you have already caused irreparable harm to this Orchestra that we in this area have taken in as our own for many years. This is a World Class Orchestra in the woods of New Hampshire! I don’t have to go to Boston or New York to hear beautiful music played by highly professional Musicians! They are here, they have been here, some of them for thirty years or more. I sincerely hope that you and the Board of Directors can be professional enough yourselves to realize you have made a terrible mistake and take immediate actions to rectify it.
Dr. Diane L. Potter
PO Box 869
Center Harbor, NH 03226
Cc: NHMF Board of Directors, c/o Mr. Edward J. McLear, Chairman