NHMF hits the Reset button

I’ve been forwarded the text of a letter from the board of the New Hampshire Music Festival which would suggest a course reversal on their part:

The Board of Directors met on December 17th to review our artistic goals and the options available to us to achieve them starting with the 2010 season. After a long and comprehensive discussion, the board concluded it was not in the best interests of our audience, orchestra, management, or the board to embark on another season of division and tensions that marked 2009. Indeed, the board believed that to do so could put at risk the very existence of the Festival.

Consequently, the Board has changed course. It has decided to work toward its goal to create more exciting musical experiences in a more traditional way. We felt our plans to introduce a collaborative approach to music making with a contingent of new musicians, existing musicians and highly distinguished students was not going to be embraced. For that reason, pursuing that approach would not have achieved the collaborative environment we sought in presenting concerts for the enjoyment of our patrons.

A representative of the Board and Festival management has approached the chair of the orchestra committee to discuss this new direction. We are encouraged that, working together, we will put the issues that divided us aside. The Board and Festival management are committed to working with the orchestra to achieve a successful 2010 season and a secure, harmonious future.

There are several meetings scheduled in January to work out all the details as we return to the more traditional way the Festival has been managed. Once everything has been finalized, we will report to you fully by the end of January. In the meantime, please know that the Festival Orchestra you have loved over these many years will be returning next summer.

While the Board of Directors and Festival Management felt that the new direction it had carefully chosen to reinvigorate the orchestra and achieve even higher artistic quality was the correct one, there comes a time when to continue down that path in the face of sincere misgivings on the part of our musicians and patrons is simply not good for the health and stability of the organization. That time has come. We recognize we did not anticipate the strong emotions that were stirred by the planned new direction. Our goal is – and has always been – to bring you great music and we pledge to you our commitment to do that.

We wish you all a Happy New Year and a wonderful future for the New Hampshire Music Festival.

Rusty McClear, Co-chairman of the Board of the New Hampshire Music Festival
Susan Weatherbie, Co-chair

A letter from the orchestra committee states that they have received assurances that the October 2009 personnel policy is “null and void.”

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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  • The Boston Globe Jan.11 story, headlined “Orchestrating a Victory”, written by Geoff Edgers leaves out so much of what has changed over the 10 years I have lived “around Winnipesaukee” in the Plymouth area where the festival has performed many of its classical concerts in PSU facilities. He doesn’t recognize or know about the drop in weekly performances, the drop of the choir, the decision to build a venue in Center Harbor, the decisions to drop the educational programs in area schools and substitute for them programs in two private pre-schools.

    I won’t think a “victory has been orchestrated” unless the present board recognizes how the new direction they sought was only a desire of their
    personal need for control rather than a wish to add to a good music experience here in central NH.

    Henry Fogel seems to believe his execution of the changes David Graham and the board saw as desirable were acceptable. He and they seem to have no idea of the community the festival has created and at least now, whether retired or not, I hope we can save the NH Music Festival and the wonderful summer experience I found 10 years ago.

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