Front Page 6/21/10

NHMF Musicians return for 2010 Season; long road to recovery remains

Nestled between the Lakes Region and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Plymouth is a bucolic college town, home to Plymouth State University, the long-time host of the New Hampshire Music Festival.

As reported earlier this year, this community had come together in support of its beloved summer orchestra amidst the strife caused by the Festival’s decision makers to move into a drastically new direction for the future which many feared did not include their resident Festival Orchestra.

Immediately following the first rehearsal of the season on July 7, 2009, President/CEO David Graham and Festival Director Henry Fogel delivered shocking news: Musicians wishing to return for the 2010 season would have to undergo a rigorous reapplication process. Veteran performers were being asked to submit an audition portfolio consisting of a CD or DVD of a solo performance of music from three periods of music history as well as optional performances of jazz, improvisation, or alternative styles, and three written essays regarding their approach to music making and mentoring. The rationale behind it was to assure management that musicians would be competent to assume duties related to a “new orchestra model”.

Orchestra solidarity was paramount at this critical juncture. At an orchestra meeting, it was decided that musicians would wear purple ribbons during rehearsals and concerts to express their solidarity against Management’s actions. Little did the orchestra know that the audience, who were outraged at the prospect of losing their musicians, would also choose to wear purple ribbons! Concerned citizens gathered to establish a group, S.O.O.N. (Save Our Orchestra Now), whose goal was to save the New Hampshire Music Festival and its musicians.

The battle to save the festival continued throughout the fall and winter, and after countless hours of discussion and lobbying by the Orchestra Committee and executives of SOON, the Board of Trustees voted to abandon the “new model”. Along with this decision came the resignations of President David Graham, Festival Director Henry Fogel, newly appointed Artistic Director Jonathan Gandelsman, and several board members.

NHMF musicians are pleased with the news that they will return in 2010, and are looking forward to performing for their supportive audience.

We are hopeful that the issues that still remain between the Festival Board and Management and the Musicians, can be resolved through negotiation, dialogue and mutual agreement during the course of this summer. The Orchestra Committee looks forward to meeting directly with members of the board to work out a Personnel Policy that is mutually agreeable and will ensure the stability and quality of the orchestra into the future.

The Orchestra Committee continues to work to restore peace and harmony to an organization that has seen much strife over recent seasons. The goal for NHMF musicians is to provide world-class performances of classical orchestra and chamber music and to achieve recognition so that they are never again put in such a precarious position.

We would like to thank our loyal supporters for helping us to achieve what we have so far. Please consider a donation to the Festival at this time. Your ongoing support both financially and publicly will ensure the health of the organization well into the future.


The NHMF Orchestra Committee

Ella Marie Gray
Bernard Di Gregorio
Joseph Higgins
Nina Allen Miller
Kristin Van Cleve