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October, 2004 - Nr. 10


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A New Low
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Agentur für Deutsch

Second K-W Symphony Board Reaches a New Low

by Herwig Wandschneider

Herwig Wandschneider

The controversy over the dismissal of Martin Fischer-Dieskau last year continues unabated after a short summer breather. This is of course what happens, if closure is something that the Board has not accomplished. The community, its political administration at all levels, and above all, people associated with the symphony - musicians, subscribers and members - desperately want closure, meaning transparency and the truth and nothing but the truth, and finally to get on with life. The first-class orchestra is still that – first-class -, but its reputation diminishes proportionately to the level of manipulation and the discord the Board of Directors can generate in public.

If we, today, know little more about what happened after a new Board was mandated to resolve the issue, committees were established to research what the problem was, Minutes of Meeting were recorded and then referred to as "secretary notes . . . little more than "garbage notes and that's where they belong" (quote of a director’s comments in The Record September 18th), it is time to make a new effort to find a Board that is up to the task.

Throwing mud into each other’s faces does not belong in the boardroom and certainly not in the media. Volunteers require a constructive, dynamic, solution-oriented environment. One can only hope that new volunteers can be found, who still want to sit on the Board and pursue this objective, musicians, who still want to perform for the KWS, and competent conductors, who do not mind coming here and risk being "unjustly and unfairly" fired.

The issue clearly has escalated well beyond the "unfair and unjust" Fischer-Dieskau firing. The bad news is that the lack of transparency and truthfulness of this Board combined with the public bickering between directors leads to rumours and statements, some too extreme to repeat. They are not complimentary to the Board, some may even be someone’s imagination, but tend to become more credible by arguments over facts in the media. As a result, the entire K-W Symphony, not just the Board, may well be looked at as not up to the task. That would also be unjust and unfair. Subscribers have seen what the musicians can deliver. They are professionals. The potential has been illustrated.

All that is needed is what the second Board has been unable to deliver, namely either a constructive correction to what more and more clearly is an unfair and unjust dismissal executed by the previous Board, or at least a transparent, truthful, closure to a miserable series of events, combined with an acceptable, sincere and comprehensive apology to the maestro. For all to see and hear, particularly existing and potential future musicians and conductors. Not just members and subscribers. And not just Fischer-Dieskau.

A continued public squabble between directors and even between the chair and vice chair with distorted statements that have to be clarified time and time again, is not the way to run a ship. (see also Tony Martinek’s article on The Record’s "Insight" page September 28). The result of such public discord may well be reflected by the observed reduction of subscribers and of the entire concert audience to-date, and may contribute to the fact that the majority of the concerts still do not have sponsors. These consequences likely have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the performances.

Sind alle guten Dinge 3 ?? Many think it is a necessity. A new citizen group is being established in an effort to facilitate election of a Board, which will honourably and positively conclude this unfortunate series of events, which caused so much public embarrassment and agony for all. And maybe such Board will find ways of restructuring the chain of command with checks and balances, so that another public display of this type will never happen again.

May those entitled to vote chose wisely when it comes to electing a third Board at the annual meeting, November 16th.


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