Skip to content

An Open Letter by Leslie Weber

January 11, 2013

An Open Letter to the Administrative Board of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director Arild Remmereit, and to the Rochester Music Community in general.

Dear Gentlepeople:

In light of the RPO’s decision to terminate the contract of Director Remmereit prior to its completion, I would like to convey my personal amazement and distress.  I have one and only one reason for supporting Director Remmereit:  I am passionate about the quality of the Rochester Fine Arts community.  

As a Rochester native and a member of several of Rochester’s choral groups, I would hope that my understanding of the situation is clear, as follows:

1. Director Remmereit was hired by the RPO Board to do a job which involves creative and musical expertise.  By virtue of simple common sense, no one on the board had/has the particular expertise to do this job themselves.

2. As part of the interview and selection process, it is assumed that A. Remmereit’s expertise and commitment to innovative programming and RPO growth/community outreach were carefully researched and found to be of benefit.

3.  During Director Remmereit’s tenure so far, he has been true to the programming and musical ideals which he put forth during the search and interview process.

4.  During Director Remmereit’s tenure so far, RPO finances are moving in a positive direction – improving.

5. During Director Remmereit’s tenure so far, RPO audiences are increasing and becoming more diverse.  (Not to mention the excitement that he generates with those audiences.)

 6.  A “Harmony Project” was formed to resolve difficult issues.  The RPO CEO (Charles Owens) has not been required to clearly outline what he specifically did in order to follow either the spirit or the letter of the project’s “requirements.”

               And perhaps most amazingly –

7.  A NEGATIVE point is considered to be the fact that Director Remmereit is uncompromising in his quest for quality, although perhaps not always tactful in his pursuit of such.

It would be wonderful if everyone dedicated to uncompromising excellence in his/her field were always able to also have such a gift for tact that no one was ever offended.  Since I do not know Director Remmereit personally, perhaps “tact” is an area in which he might do well to work at growth.  However, when looking for a skilled professional for anything important – my child’s surgery, for example – I will always choose the most skilled expert over someone with a great bedside manner but perhaps less attention to “perfection” in his/her field.  Granted that the aforementioned areas of expertise are different, but is the RPO an organization which is of such low importance to our community that we can afford to be any less concerned with quality?

Please note:  NO ONE has accused Director Remmereit of being half-hearted with his energy, work, or commitment, not only to music but to Rochester itself.  I was profoundly fortunate to be in a tiny (6 – 7 person) audience when Director Remmereit was conducting a master class for a large Rochester area band.  As a singer for more than 40 years, I was simply awestruck at what he could simultaneously hear and communicate, both with regard to tone and technique.  I was a fan of his prior to that experience.  I was a rabid fan after.

Two nights ago I was in Boston, having stumbled with a friend upon an adorable, out-of-the-way little bistro.  Seated at the end of the bar was a fellow dressed in concert attire.  Striking up a conversation, it turned out that he was one of the Boston Philharmonic’s choral singers, had sung professionally for decades, and had just finished singing at Boston’s Symphony Hall.  When he found out that I was from Rochester, he was extremely respectful and interested, knowing the Eastman School’s reputation as well as that of the RPO.  He had heard of Arild Remmereit, and it was an embarrassment to have to share that our community was experiencing this discord in such tenuous times for the arts.   He sadly commented on the irony of fine arts administrators who just can’t “let go” enough to give the people they hire the freedom to create the magic they were hired to create.

Please, Rochesterians – we may be a small upstate city, but our fine arts community is a sparkling jewel that outshines all of upstate New York.  For those of us who have grown up here, and for many who are newly arrived, our music community is felt to be a huge part – perhaps the largest part – of our deep and proud Rochester identity.  WHY, oh WHY – both musicians and administrators – are we focused on egos and power instead of on what is best for all of us from both economic and artistic perspectives?  It is heartrending.  Dear RPO Board and/or musicians – PLEASE find a way to resolve your differences and move forward with our gifted, dedicated, and charismatic Music Director Arild Remmereit.

Respectfully and Very Sincerely Yours,

Leslie J. Weber

From → Uncategorized

One Comment
  1. ted cichanowicz permalink

    brilliant letter. A copy should be forwarded directly to Mr Berry, whose comments yesterday seemed to indicate that everything is fine; that audiences are clearly in the Boards corner and the money is pouring in.It bordered on an arrogance that should disturb the true audiences and supporters of this fine orchestra.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: