I was totally devastated when the management and the board of directors of the Everett Symphony Orchestra aborted the balance of the 2009-2010 performance season and sent notices of contract cancellation to Music Director/Conductor Dr. Paul-Elliott Cobbs and Concertmaster Fred Chu.
A letter to orchestra members states: “It is the Board’s intent to continue to have you involved and an important part of the broad-based planning process to determine what our community wants from its symphony.”
The board’s philosophy appears to be that if the symphony cannot operate in the black (show a profit), instead of cutting back, cut it out! Put the players in mothballs for the better part of a year and maybe — just maybe — they’ll be around to play again.
It just doesn’t work that way!
The orchestra does not exist to do the bidding of the board. Quite the contrary. The orchestra is the raison d’etre for the board.
The orchestra is a nonprofit organization. It can expand or contract in accordance with circumstances. It is not profit-driven.
There is no great enigma as to what the music-loving members of the community want. They want to hear live, classical music, for the most part, with some pops thrown in for variety’s sake.
In the finest traditions of musicianship, the players live to get together to play the works of the masters. Under Dr. Paul-Elliott Cobbs, each orchestra member’s skills in ensemble work have become honed to a fine art. In the vacuum created, instead of waiting around to be called back to Everett, the players will find other musical organizations who will be delighted to take advantage of their talents. And the Everett Symphony Orchestra, nurtured by Dr. Cobbs into one of the country’s top-notch community orchestras, will become but a memory.
I know management of ESO worked hard to resolve economic problems, but I feel their objectives were misplaced and their efforts misdirected.
Long live the symphony!