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D&C Editorial Staff Praises Arild

January 27, 2013

In its latest consideration of the issues facing the RPO, the Democrat & Chronicle praised the work of Arild Remmereit, while at the same time describing the opinions of the RPO’s top leaders (also expressed in the D&C) as “questionable.”  “Many of the successes cited in the RPO essay, such as several capacity audiences over the past year, were directly attributable to Remmereit’s vision,” write the editors, also hoping that “the RPO establishment isn’t making the same mistake it made in 1947 when it rejected Leonard Bernstein.”  …

The pettiness and disrespect shown Remmereit and his supporters, alone, suggest that the RPO’s 32-member board should begin some serious soul-searching before embarking on the journey of hiring a new music director.

The board should start by looking at itself and asking whether it should be more representative of the kind of diversity needed to expand its audience base. For instance, currently only one person of color sits on the board. Had there been more, Remmereit may have been even more successful in diversifying the audience base, though he certainly made major strides in featuring women and minority artists.

The RPO’s appearance at Carnegie Hall in 2014 will feature the work of Howard Hanson, who directed the Eastman School of Music for 40 years, but Remmereit’s original plan was to showcase women composers, who rarely make the big stage.

With the RPO facing a $746,000 deficit, $786,000 in new cuts and a shortened season, its future isn’t nearly as bright as that of the Buffalo Philharmonic, which has had a balanced budget seven of the last eight years. Ticket sales and subscriptions at the BPO are at an all-time high.

But before the RPO can move forward it needs to first step back and reassess its leadership to ensure it can maintain the kind of success that it witnessed largely on Remmereit’s watch.

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  1. I would like very much to know more about the RPO passing on Leonard Bernstein. It is hard to imagine but in light of the current situation and the explanations given (or lack of) I’m sure it’s a story that if fully uncovered will be quite revealing. Could you please tell us more about it so that past history can be fully considered in choosing a path for the future?

  2. I had assumed it was because of his then youth and inexperience. But as I waited in line at the RPO meeting, the person next to me said that according to a biography he had read, it was because Bernstein was gay. That sounds plausible. Howard Hanson, then the major figure on the Rochester music scene, was known to be homophobic.

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