A labor fight has embroiled another orchestra - this time in the Rocky Mountains.
Musicians of the Grand Teton Music Festival are circulating petition to reinstate three members of the orchestra who they say were "terminated without cause." So far the petition to reinstate has more than 1,500 signatures. All three musicians were long-time members of the festival orchestra who were deeply active in orchestra politics; two were members of the Player's Committee and one was a musician representative to the board.
In a press release issued last week, the musicians said that the three musicians -- bassoonist Juan de Gomar, violinist Jennifer Ross, and violist Kristen Linfante -- were issued termination letters by Grand Teton Music Festival management "on the grounds of 'comportment” and 'disruptive behavior."
Nearly 100 of the musicians have written letters stating that they will not return to the festival this summer unless the the musicians are reinstated, according to a statement from the GTMF Players' Committee. Those musicians have written letters to Grand Teton Music Festival President and CEO Andrew Palmer Todd and General Manager Jeff Counts.
Representatives for the Grand Teton Music Festival said that because the orchestra is an invitation-only ensemble, it is inaccurate to categorize the non-invitations as terminations.
"The selection of this orchestra has been invitation only for its entire existence," CEO Todd told the Jackson Hole Daily. "Each year there’s occasionally people that are not invited."
Linfante, who is Principal Violist of Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra and has been a member of the Grand Teton festival orchestra for 23 seasons, also was Chairwoman of the festival orchestra’s Players’ Committee. Gomar, who is a bassoonist and contrabassoonist in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and has been a member of the festival for 19 seasons, also was on the Players’ Committee. Ross, who is former Principal Second Violinist of the Pittsburgh Symphony and has been a member of the festival for the past 38 seasons, is a recent musician representative to the Board of Directors at the Grand Teton Music Festival.
"The commonality among these three musicians is that each openly expressed grave concerns of the musicians at weekly scheduled 'town hall' meetings organized by the festival’s management this past summer," said the musicians' press release. "While town hall meetings typically provide a safe and open forum for discussion, these meetings appear to have done the opposite. The terminated musicians expressed collective concerns surrounding new directions that the festival appears to be going in at the direction of President and CEO Andrew Palmer Todd – a shift that places more focus on the festival as a presenting organization of outside, one-off performers, and less focus on the foundation upon which the festival was built nearly 60 years ago, its internationally recognized orchestra, made up of musicians from the nation’s top orchestras and learning institutions that come together each summer for the seven-week festival."
Representatives for the Grand Teton Music Festival said that "we cannot comment on the specifics of any personnel issues" and that "the festival’s orchestral concerts remain the heart of the festival."
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