June 29, 2009
I write on behalf of my wife and myself as members of the NHMF
community of supporters for over twenty years.
Let me begin by stating that my wife, Nancy, and I honor maestro
Paul Polivnick for the incredible growth and development he brought
to the music of the Festival organization over his nearly two
decades of commitment; we will always feel grateful to him for
making the summer festival one of the very highest experiences
of the year for us.
When we heard that a new “festival director” was being appointed
it generated in us a new level of excitement and expectation with
the seeming possibility of even further advances in excellence.
Then I read your article in A Tutti.
I was disturbed and disappointed. After being half way through the article
I had to stop and start over, asking myself, Does he really mean to
be taking pot shots at Mr. Polivnick before he has even left the property?”
Polivnick’s consummate contributions are obvious to those of us who sat
spellbound under his leadership for so many years; we are looking
forward to yours. I’m not sure whether you have been listening to the
same director that we have. We and all of our friends in the Festival
family agree that Polivnick‘s renditions have far surpassed what you
cast negatively as “fine concerts.” At virtually every concert we found our
Minds transformed and our spirits soaring, eagerly anticipating the next
exhilarating musical offering.
Suggestion: Do something proactive, constructive, creative. Then
others will speak for your work and it will speak for itself.
Terry Clay Thomason”
Undated, but I believe, July 14:
To Henry Fogel and David Graham
“Like many others, I have wondered for many months what is was
that was so terrible that it was necessary to “orchestrate” it for
close to a year before sharing it with the constituency that has
supported this endeavor so faithfully for so long.
The irony is that as a result of the shameful and demeaning way
the matter has been handled, you have not been able to release it
in a carefully planned manner, but rather, defensively as an emergency
response to the broad-based anger your club-fisted approach
That which has been hidden and now revealed, is that in what seems to be
a truly Machiavellian business style, you have, in your “great wisdom”
decided to turn what has been a truly fine professional musical
organization into a “semi-pro team.”
In response to your July 13 letter, with its news of diminishing attendance, I
submit that the problem is most assuredly not disenchantment by Festival
followers with the quality of the product, but rather, at least in large measure,
a reflection on the economy. Don’t most businesses faced with declining
revenues engage in fresh, forceful, proactive marketing campaigns,
rather than simply the same old routine announcement forms? Let’s see,
who has ultimate responsibility for marketing this fine orchestra??
Finally, gentlemen, if you honestly believe the manner in which you are
dealing with the orchestra is marked by integrity, dignity and courtesy, let
me ask: Henry, how stiff and grueling was the competition you faced in
securing your position with the organization? David, have you submitted
your multiple essays and faced a real and stressful audition to demonstrate
that you too unequivocally possess the qualities necessary to lead in this
new environment of “higher standards, longer hours and a much more
engaged commitment than in the past”?
One thing of which I am certain is that this style of leadership has diminished
my financial motivation to zero. I cannot in good conscience continue to
contribute to a leadership approach characterized by hubris, arrogance and
hurtfulness to the orchestra and orchestra goers. I suspect you will find
I am far from alone.
Terry C. Thomason”
To Edward McLear, Chair, Board of Directors
“Dear Mr. McLear,
Where are you; where is the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire
Music Festival? I hope and trust that I am mistaken, since I have always
Appreciated your leadership and that of the Board, but you all seem invisible,
While your two principal staff persons are boisterously and crudely
Dismantling a fine musical organization.
Fogel, who appears to have assumed staff dominance, rudely and with
great hubris insults Paul Polivnick repeatedly in your official publication.
After nearly two decades of more than outstanding service by Polivnick, I
find that absolutely inexcusable.
Fogel and graham, in their July 13 mailing casually inform us that in the
blink of an eye they are turning a truly fine, professional orchestra into a
Is it really possible that these two have the blessing of the Board in this
truly embarrassing, hurtful downgrade of a fine orchestra? I do not believe
the decline in attendance reflects dissatisfaction with the product. I believe
the obvious – that it is at least in large measure a reflection of current
economic decline. Where has the paid staff been in the obvious approach
of economic stress? We have not seen a proactive, vigorous, vital
marketing program to contest the economic challenge.
Nancy and I travel around the world most every year and are blessed by
many exciting experiences, yet I can tell you truly that we have always
counted the performances by NHMF as one of the highest points of our year.
I can only say that we are dismayed and heartbroken by the heavy-handed
treatment of the orchestra and the nearly year-long concealed hand played by
the organization toward faithful concert goers.
Having contributed to the work of the orchestra for more than twenty years,
we sadly find ourselves in the position of no longer being able in good
conscience to financially support the current leadership of your professional
Terry C. Thomason