To: The Musicians of the 2009 New Hampshire Music Festival
From: David Graham and Henry Fogel
Date: July 8, 2009
When we left our meeting on Tuesday, we expected that we would return as a group to continue our discussions. We have been informed by Valerie Watts, Chair of the Orchestra Cornrnittee, that that the musicians have the information they require and another meeting is not necessary.
Frankly, we continue to hope that that first meeting was the first of many as we continue our dialogue.
For example, it was clear to us to us that, after hearing your questions and comments, we had not adequately described to you how the role of musicians will change in the future; in that context, we better understand why some of you have concerns about the necessity of establishing criteria and a selection procedure. As a result, we were planning at our meeting on Thursday to be more expansive in describing what will be different for musicians and describe how the criteria measures the new responsibilities we envision for our musicians.
You also provided insights that we find very helpful as we review the criteria and selection process. We continue to be open to incorporate your ideas and your concerns.
We firmly believe that continuing dialogue can only enhance the process we described to you on Tuesday. It is unfortunate that our meeting for Thursday has been canceled.
We understand from Valerie that your Orchestra Cornrnittee is preparing a document to submit to the Festival management sometime on Thursday. We do not know what that document will say. However, we feel it is important that we share with you our reactions to our dialogue to date and to inform you how important we feel that dialogue is. Accordingly, we are attaching the Outline we had intended to share with you had we conducted the meeting as anticipated. It should give you insights into our thinking and, we hope, will generate further reactions and suggestions from you that we would be interested in hearing.
We remain open to continuing the dialogue and we remain committed to the principles of fairness and due process.
Outline for Meeting With NHMF Musicians July 9, 2009
This Is a Continuation of Our Meeting of Tuesday, June 7
We feel it is absolutely essential that we keep a dialogue open with you and we look forward to continuing meetings with you so long as you feel it is necessary and useful to do so.
We are open to consider your suggestions so long as they are reasonable and designed to help us achieve our objective.
What the Festival’s Newly Defined Mission is -and Is Not
We must reiterate that certain decisions have been made: the NHMF is going forward with redefining our mission and accomplishing the tasks to realize that mission.
We are not replacing the Festival orchestra; we are recreating it in order to achieve our new mission: to create music that is more relevant and fresh and engaging to musicians and audience alike.
The need for change: we do not feel we can afford to continue having the Festival perform as in the past; the audience for our classical repertoire is already diminishing. This is not a reflection on your playing.
This “re-creation” of the Festival includes continuing the concept of a resident orchestra.
We fully understand and respect the fact that you have helped make the NHMF what it is today. We recognize and acknowledge your invaluable contribution.
• This recreation of the Festival orchestra does not mean we are eliminating all of you in the future.
o Indeed, we are giving you the first opportunity to be selected.
o But we must insure that the musicians who are chosen to be part ofthe recreated Festival orchestras have the willingness and the ability to realize our mission.
How Musicians’ Roles Will Change
• We believe that, in order to fulfill our new mission, the way musicians create music must change from how we have done it over time. In this new incarnation, the way musicians approach music-making, rehearsing and performing will be different:
o There will no longer be a conductor or music director who directs the musicians in the way (s)he believes music should be interpreted without musician input.
o It incorporates the concept of conductors and curators who are open to what musicians think and feel
o Rehearsals will become opportunities for collaboration in interpretation and execution. Musicians will be invited to play a much different role in rehearsals than they have in the past. They will have the opportunity to participate in the interpretation of music, meeting the challenge to present classical pieces with a
renewed freshness and excitement, allowing musicians and audiences alike to rediscover familiar repertoire.
o The concept of mentoring students is a new one for the Festival. We do not seek to supplant conservatories and music schools in the excellent service they provide. Rather, Festival musicians will provide coaching and insights to students in rehearsals, performances and daily interactions so that both will grow from the interactive experience.
o The role of principal players and section players may change; chairs may rotate among musicians and between musicians and students. Further, it is possible that musicians may change positions between pieces or between concerts -moving from principal to second or third in a section. This approach is less hierarchical than current practice.
o As a consequence, we expect that the rehearsal process will be very different from your experience: professional artists -musicians, conductor, guest artists and composers -will work together in a more creative exercise: collaborating, listening to one another’s ideas for interpretation, listening differently to one another. This change will require a commitment to a different concept; and it will require a commitment of time, creativity and energy.
o For this reason, rehearsals will be longer; the total number of work hours in a week may be two or three times what it is now.
We will also expect musicians to participate in chamber music performances and potentially recitals; and we may ask musicians, from time to time, to speak to members of the public and donors about music and about the Festival.
What all of this means is that we expect musicians in the recreated orchestra to bring a different set of skills than has been required in the past.
Excellence in instrumental playing is the constant: it is what we have always strived for in the past and it is essential going forward. But going forward, instrumental proficiency is in and of itself by no means sufficient.
Getting There: Why Are Criteria and a Selection Process Necessary?
There is no question among any of us that you are consummate musicians, artists in what you do and you have been integral partners with the NHMF.
But, because of the way we have asked you to perform to date, you have had little opportunity to demonstrate the talents and capabilities that will be necessary in the recreation of the orchestra. That does not mean that you do not meet the criteria nor does that mean that you will not be selected in future seasons.
Unfortunately, we have no basis upon which to judge your willingness to enter into this new approach or your ability to flourish in it. And it is unlikely that members of the Selection Committee will be familiar with your musicianship.
Therefore, the selection process is the fairest and most objective way we can determine, first, your level of interest in participating in the future; and, second, whether you possess the talents and capabilities in this newly defmed role.
Are the Criteria Set in Stone? Is the Festival open to refinements?
We have created a set of criteria that we believe embody the traits of the musician who can realize this new role.
We set out to share these criteria with you on the first day we were together.
We have encouraged you to ask questions so that you understand what we have in mind.
We continue to ask for your input and your suggestions. We are willing to review and, when appropriate, refine these criteria to insure that we are successful in meeting our objective. We are open to making changes that make sense so long as they do not compromise that obj ective.
• Why ask you to write essays? Since we are going beyond instrumental proficiency in identifying the role of musicians, we believe that your responses to the questions we have posed, coupled with your audition DVD’s/CD’s, will give us a better sense of your understanding of what we are creating in the re-creation of the Festival.
We have made no decisions on which musicians will be selected for 2010.
We have created a selection process that we believe is fair.
We have in mind a Selection Committee that will be comprised of at least two professional musicians who understand what we are looking to achieve and who can be objective and fair in evaluating musicians.
• We are open, if as a group you choose, to inviting a non-voting observer whom you would appoint to participate with the Selection Committee. The role of this observer would be to
(1) observe the discussion around each evaluation;
(2) insure objectivity in the decision-making; and
(3) participate in the discussion with the members of the Committee.
We have offered each musician the opportunity to request a review of the decision of the Selection Committee in the event (s)he disagrees. We are hoping that the concept of an observer -keeping the selection process open to someone you designate -will allay any concerns you may have regarding impartiality or bias.
We make no assumptions regarding how many of you will choose to participate in the selection process, nor do we assume how many of you will meet the criteria.
But, if you do not share our vision, we strongly recommend that you choose to opt out. That is your choice and your choice alone.
The Festival has established September 30 as a deadline for submission of Portfolios. Why?
o We believe the Summer affords the best environment for you to create your portfolio:
o The Festival will provide facilities, recording equipment and computers for your use, at the Festival’s expense.
o As you prepare your Portfolio, you will have the opportunity to consult with Festival colleagues -the management, the artistic leadership, and your fellow musicians as you prepare your portfolio.
In addition, we have anticipated how long the selection process will take. Once we have determined how many of you are selected for the Summer, 2010 season, we will know whether there are positions that remain open. In the event that the number is less than what will be required, we must afford ourselves enough time to audition other musicians to complete the necessary complement.
The selection process -and potential requests for review -will take some number of weeks.
Backing into the calendar to plan for these timeframes, September 30 is the latest we believe we can afford to wait for submission of your portfolios. We anticipate that the Selection Committee may very well continue their work into the mid-November timeframe.
We must insure that we afford ourselves the opportunity to recruit musicians before they make other commitments for summer employment.
Similarly, if any of you are not selected, we want to give you the opportunity to seek alternate summer employment while positions are still available.