An Essay by Ray Grosswirth
The Democrat and Chronicle Published an essay by Ray Grosswirth. You can read it below, or click on the link to the D&C website:
When the RPO Board of Trustees announced in November that it was terminating the contract of its music director, Arild Remmereit, I was deeply saddened. This sadness was soon followed by feelings of anger, whereby the question I found myself asking was, “How could the board make such a decision, and what provoked it?”
Since November, my time has been taken up by efforts to reinstate Maestro Remmereit. This has involved being part of a dedicated group of community supporters, whose primary goal is to offer a counter-voice to what has been articulated by the RPO management. Obviously, when there are two sides to a contentious issue, debates can become heated, as evidenced by opposing letters to the editor, public forums and online exchanges.
In any conflict, there are two sides to the story. We have heard two entirely different points of view from musicians in the RPO. A few have stated that they were treated harshly by Remmereit during orchestra rehearsals. Other musicians challenged those assertions, claiming that Maestro Remmereit, was very generous in his handling of the orchestra, whereby he encouraged questions, if rehearsal instructions were not clear. We have also heard two sides to the story involving Maestro Remmereit’s dealings with RPO office staff.
I have been a loyal follower of the RPO for over 50 years. In fact, I have even guest-conducted the orchestra. This occurred in 1965, when Maestro Laszlo Somogyi selected me as the winner of a competition for young, aspiring conductors. I never forgot the experience of conducting the orchestra in the Eastman Theater. I have immersed myself in the life of the RPO ever since, whereby I have seen many conductors come and go. As I have stated many times over the past few weeks, no conductor has impressed me as much as Arild Remmereit.
I am very proud to call Arild a friend. Defending this friendship and his career as a world-class conductor has unfortunately created some ill feelings between a few orchestra members and myself. I like to feel that during the past few days, some of these tensions have been healed. For example, a few orchestra members and I have simply agreed to disagree, whereby feelings of mutual respect now exist.
What happens next? RPO Community Supporters remains fully engaged in the effort to reinstate Maestro Remmereit. We realize that the maestro can’t wait indefinitely as we continue our efforts, so there is certainly the potential that he may receive an offer from another orchestra, in which case we would be supportive if he should accept. We are also pleased that he continues to be one of the most sought-after guest conductors in the world, and are delighted that a website has been set up promoting his talents.
I still believe there is reason for the RPO to reinstate Remmereit. I believe he is the best conductor Rochester has ever experienced. The largest complaint from RPO management seems to be their conviction that Arild is not a collaborator. I, of course, differ with that assertion. I believe what the maestro needs is a personal assistant, and I have offered to be that personal assistant on a volunteer basis.
I continue to believe that wounds from the RPO crisis can be healed, and I hope I can be part of the healing process.