Dear Mr. Graham and Mr. Fogel,
I have had the pleasure of attending the first chamber music performance this summer, and the second orchestral concert. As always, wonderful music, just amazingly well performed. Here in NH, one waits through a long winter for this summertime jewel.
The first thing to say is how lucky I feel to be able to get to these events, living in Plymouth as I do. As a lifelong lover of classical music who doesn’t play due to two left hands and poor tone discrimination (I hope I’m not alone in that) I enjoy every chance I get to attend live performances by professionals. The Festival is giving me exactly that. As lovers of classical music yourselves, I am sure you know what I mean when I say that it is almost impossible to describe the unique pleasure and fulfillment one is afforded by performances such as last night’s Dvorak cello concerto and Kodaly, and last summer’s Beethoven violin concerto and the Peck percussion piece.
Under the circumstances, you know the however is coming right up.
Giving the performers a “take it or leave it” a mere matter of days before the season to which they’ve committed has a lot of things wrong with it. Did you expect they would not respond to what you are doing? Given the lack of opportunity you have afforded them to respond, the brevity of the season, and their personal commitment to the Festival, did you expect a docile silence? Your evident refusal to negotiate, or even to work with the musicians to jointly plan and define goals for the future is short-sighted, archaic, anachronistic, and symptomatic of a heavy-handed approach that you should have known would be certain to rub the musicians the wrong way.
Telling musicians who’ve been in NHMF for decades – far longer than you two have committed to this beloved annual event! – that they have to submit an application for the very first time, and demonstrate that they will kowtow and fit into your arbitrary new scheme, is exactly what they say – it’s insulting. These people bring a wealth of musical experience, performing music of all ages under many conductors before audiences all over the world They bring to us both professional qualification and expertise and I will bet that not one of them would refuse to play according the creative interpretation of the conductor in front of them. Where on earth is the logic in treating them like this?
And as an audience member, I’m frankly peeved too, at the threat to my enjoyment of the Festival now and in the future, and to reading your July 13 Bush-era propaganda letter. Pure smoke!
This is much more than a question of labor relations. As administrators you should know that if you act in a way that enmifies your people and erodes their morale, you are risking a decline in performance quality; equally as bad, you are taking the risk that you can overcome the negative feedback about you and about the Festival that will sweep through the world of classical music like a brush fire.
Frankly, I don’t think you’ve thought this through. And as they say, failure to plan is planning to fail.
Is it any surprise that there is a veritable forest of purple ribbons in the audience – and on the musicians?
You are jeopardizing the entire future of the Festival (doesn’t sound like a good resume item to me).
Please, think about it.
29 River Ridge
Plymouth NH 03264
603 254 5660
Dear Mr. Graham and Mr. Fogel,