High Drama at the Oregon Symphony

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Ralph
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High Drama at the Oregon Symphony

Post by Ralph » Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:06 am

You can be sure Kalmar's letter was vetted by the orchestra's lawyer before it was sent. This sounds like the epic battle between Ozawa and BSO principal trumpet Charlie Schlueter that was highlighted in the book "Orchestra."

*****

Struggle to save career spills out of symphony hall
A flutist, facing the subjectivity of musical tastes, tries everything to change the mind of the conductor who wants her gone
Sunday, April 24, 2005
DAVID STABLER
The Oregonian

For 25 years, Dawn Weiss has played all the chief flute solos for the Oregon Symphony. The languid and terrifying opening of Claude Debussy's "The Afternoon of a Faun." The high notes that soar above Dmitri Shostakovich's blazing Fifth Symphony. The frenzied flutter of Felix Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Until last September, Weiss thought she was playing them pretty well.

Then, she received a letter from Carlos Kalmar. The letter cited the Oregon Symphony music director's dissatisfaction with Weiss in six areas: technical errors, poor pitch control, lack of leadership, choppy phrasing, failure to connect rehearsal corrections to performances, and an "airy and unpleasant" sound quality.

Unless she improved, Kalmar wrote, the Oregon Symphony would not renew her contract at the end of the season. Weiss' only hope was to change everything about her playing.

Some things were measurable: technical errors and follow-through. But others were almost impossible to talk about, let alone measure: the sound that came out of her flute as it was detected by Kalmar's ear, the ultimate subjective judgment.

She had six months.

Kalmar's judgments may seem arbitrary, but conductors have ruled over musicians for 200 years. True, unions and contracts have reined in the tyrannical power once wielded by supreme commanders such as Arturo Toscanini. But today's conductors still hold enormous authority over hiring and firing.

And so a tense drama began, pitting a prominent musician in the orchestra against her conductor. After receiving the letter, Weiss pressed ahead with an improvement program. And when her efforts failed, she decided to break with symphony protocol and brought the warning letter she received and her story to The Oregonian last week.

"It's about power and his ability to hand-pick his own dream orchestra," said Weiss, who thinks that part of the reason for her dismissal is her outspokenness, her age and her by-the-book approach to the union contract.

These confrontations are rare in orchestras. One exception is the Seattle Symphony, whose concertmaster is publicly fighting his dismissal by conductor Gerard Schwarz.

To the best of anyone's recollection, no one in the Oregon Symphony has been formally fired for incompetent playing in 27 years. When a conductor thinks a player is falling short, the player usually "retires" after a chat. Dismissals rarely become public.

Even after Weiss came to the newspaper, Kalmar and the symphony declined to comment on Weiss' case, citing contractual rules that protect players' privacy. "All I can tell you is, this is a personal matter," Kalmar said. "This is not a public matter."

It's clear that Weiss' fight for her job became a sort of nightmare for her, in the same way it might for anyone in an occupation that measures performance subjectively. Weiss' case also shines a rare light on how orchestras, and the Oregon Symphony in particular, deal with personnel issues, how much power the conductor has.

And the dispute reveals how far Kalmar is willing to go to realize his vision of a radically improved Oregon Symphony Orchestra.

Promoted by DePreist

Weiss arrived in a different era -- she began her tenure at the Oregon Symphony in 1977, when the musicians were part time and worked day jobs. She had attended the University of California at Los Angeles and played with symphonies in Miami and Mexico City before she was hired to play second flute by Lawrence Smith, conductor of the Oregon Symphony until 1980. Smith's successor, James DePreist, promoted her to principal flute the same year. (Orchestras typically employ two flute players and one piccolo player.)

Eventually, Weiss came to hold the only donor-supported position in the woodwind section -- one of eight endowed chairs in the orchestra.

But Weiss' career with the symphony took an unexpected turn when DePreist retired in 2003. The Vienna-trained Carlos Kalmar, younger and more ambitious, arrived with a mandate to improve the orchestra.

Weiss said that even before Kalmar was hired, she had problems with him. At his first rehearsal as a candidate in 2001, he told her how to play each note of a solo passage -- where to begin a crescendo, which notes to accent -- in front of the entire orchestra. Usually, a conductor will coach at that level of detail in a one-on-one meeting, not in front of the group.

Weiss was appalled, she said. "It's unheard of for a conductor to do that, let alone a guest conductor." Players came up to her afterward, wondering whether she was OK.

Weiss thinks she annoyed Kalmar in other ways after he became music director. She butted heads with him when he requested section rehearsals for the woodwinds in addition to regular rehearsals. She agreed that the section needed them, but she pointed out that by contract the orchestra couldn't require them.

"From that day forward, Maestro Kalmar has repeatedly poked at my artistry in front of the orchestra," she wrote in an appeal to the symphony board members.

Since taking over, Kalmar has zeroed in on pitch problems in the woodwind section, orchestra members said. He frequently targeted Weiss for criticism, although she wasn't alone, Weiss said.

Nothing prepared her for a hand-delivered letter from Kalmar right as the season began last fall. He was initiating a process not to renew her contract for the following season. The letter spelled out his six primary complaints. At the end of six months, he would decide if she had improved enough to stay, or if she should go.

A plan for reinvention

Weiss took Kalmar's warning seriously. Getting fired would end her career, she feared. She is the chief breadwinner in her family and has a 5-year-old daughter. No other orchestra would hire a 53-year-old flute principal, she thought. "I'm molded; I have a certain way of playing."

So, she began to "reinvent" herself. She changed instruments, honed her technique, studied with a "flute tone specialist," altered her body posture and her mouth formation on the flute, talked to experts around the country and held extra rehearsals with her colleagues. There was more. She practiced intonation with pianists, altered her diet and physical conditioning habits, and took yoga three times a week. She spent $12,000 in the process, she said.

She worked on "attitudinal adjustments," she said, because Kalmar told her she "had an attitude." For three months, she even wrote down every wrong note she played, in an effort to improve.

"I went for it," she said. "I told myself, even if I lose my job, I know I've done everything I could."

In February, after five months of feeling that every note she played had been analyzed under Kalmar's microscope, she heard his verdict -- she had improved a great deal, but not enough. She would not receive a contract.

On April 1, symphony President William Ryberg officially notified Weiss that she would not be rehired in the fall. He outlined Kalmar's continued dissatisfaction with her accuracy, intonation, leadership and "sound quality." This last concern was "of particular and significant concern" to the conductor, Ryberg wrote.

"As he discussed with you," he wrote, "the changes you have made to address the harsh and airy sound qualities that were discussed with you on Oct. 1, 2004, have resulted in a small and hidden Principal Flute sound with an unacceptably limited dynamic range. Mr. Kalmar needs the Principal Flute to play out when it is needed in the context of a musical passage. This is not happening to Mr. Kalmar's satisfaction."

Dramatic, compelling change

Weiss' firing comes in the context of a rapidly improving symphony. Kalmar is known as a taskmaster, a keen corrector who added rehearsals, changed seating arrangements to help the musicians hear better on stage, tightened discipline and made the orchestra's sound more stylish -- areas that DePreist neglected.

The changes have been dramatic. Kalmar's concerts sound crisper, more energetic and compelling.

Most musicians welcome the improvements, said Niel DePonte, principal percussionist and a member of the search team that hired Kalmar. "Carlos Kalmar is one of the finest conductors I have ever known or seen," he wrote in an e-mail. "His rehearsal style is direct and to the point, professional and passionate."

But some players are unhappy with Kalmar's style, although they are reluctant to go public with their opinions.

Weiss thinks Kalmar will continue to scrutinize the woodwinds.

"Carlos wants to dismantle the woodwind section, and he went 'eeney, meeney, miney, moe' and picked me," she said. "He doesn't like working with older people, anyone who looks old, looks tired, looks sickly or talks in a way that challenges his 100 percent authority. I'm the unruly weed that keeps coming up."

Other musicians disagree.

"No age discrimination is going on," said Robert Naglee, 68, who plays second bassoon and joined the orchestra in 1959. "It's all about the music."

Kalmar doesn't deny that he wants to press ahead.

"I work with all my musicians to improve the quality of the orchestra," Kalmar said in an e-mail. "We are constantly monitoring all the improvements that have already been achieved, and I admire the commitment and persistence of the musicians of the Oregon Symphony."

The matter of subjectivity

A conductor's approach to improving an orchestra is not entirely subjective. Musicians will generally agree on what constitutes playing "in tune." A wrong note is a wrong note.

But other areas that Kalmar criticized Weiss for -- her phrasing, her sound quality -- are more subjective.

"A music director will not have the power to fire someone over matters of phrasing," said Greg Sandow, a New York music critic, composer and consultant who has worked extensively with orchestras. "It's over the issue of competence."

"A conductor who really knows his or her business will hear things you and I don't," Sandow said. "They hear the second oboe is persistently just a hair ahead of the wind section when they play a chord together. Or the second bassoon doesn't properly tune the lowest note of a chord."

Like Nike and Intel, the Oregon Symphony hires its music director to carry out a vision for the company. But unlike some businesses, Kalmar cannot fire everyone he doesn't like.

"Your musicians are your artistic collaborators," Sandow said. "They have to be the people you want. On the other hand, they are a unionized work force; therefore, you can't just get rid of them."

The collective-bargaining agreement that governs the relationship between the Oregon Symphony musicians and management forbids Kalmar from firing more than four players a season, and he cannot fire anyone in the first or last year of his contract. He's in the second of a four-year contract.

Weiss said that Kalmar sent nonrenewal notices to two other players this season, one of whom then retired. The other musician remains with the symphony because the player didn't get the mandatory six months' improvement time, Weiss said. Symphony officials wouldn't comment.

In addition to making her situation public, Weiss plans to file a formal appeal to a panel of musicians and symphony managers. If she wins, she will receive a contract. If there's a tie, her case will go to arbitration.

To support the appeal, she has written letters to the board and to her colleagues in the orchestra. The letters point out the 40 newspaper reviews complimenting her playing that have appeared over the years, some in The Oregonian, as well as verbal compliments from visiting conductors.

The musicians' union supports Weiss. Her firing is "extremely unusual," said Ken Shirk, the union secretary-treasurer. The union is helping Weiss because it thinks she wasn't fairly treated, he said. He would not comment further.

If Weiss loses her appeal, she will file a grievance over age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she said.

"I cannot be silent about this," Weiss said. "It has tremendous repercussions for my family. It's so disrespectful after all these years."

David Stabler has been The Oregonian's classical music critic since 1986. In the course of writing hundreds of symphony reviews, Stabler has at times both praised the work of Dawn Weiss and criticized the performance of the woodwinds, of which she is a key player.

David Stabler: 503-221-8217; davidstabler@news.oregonian.com
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Heck148
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Post by Heck148 » Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:22 pm

These situations can get exceedingly nasty, esp when the matters are so subjective...

conceivably, it could some day go to court, and each side would present its panel of experts, who would testify that the tone is or is not good, the pitch is or is not good, the phrasing is or is niot good, etc, etc.

both sides would be right, and wrong...

in large orchestras, there is a termination procedure, which prevents an abrupt and unilateral firing of palyers with long-standing incumbency. a tenure situation is usually adapted, and this is , IMO, a good thing overall.

with larger orchestras, if the conductor really wants someone out, the orchestra may have to end up "buying out" the player's contract - IOW - pay him/her to not show up. the player makes whatever $$ is left on the contract, but it is not renewed

smaller orchestras do not have such standardized work agreements in place - but a tenure plan for players of long-standing is very desirable....it hardly seems right for a player who has dne a fine job for 20 years to be abruptly and summarily fired by a newbie conductor, who may not even get a contract renewal. musicains are well-justified in seeking protection from this sort of action.

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Post by daycart » Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:36 pm

"For 25 years, Dawn Weiss has played all the chief flute solos for the Oregon Symphony. The languid and terrifying opening of Claude Debussy's "The Afternoon of a Faun."

Frightening? No wonder they are trying to fire her. :twisted:

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Post by Ralph » Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:43 pm

Heck148 wrote:These situations can get exceedingly nasty, esp when the matters are so subjective...

conceivably, it could some day go to court, and each side would present its panel of experts, who would testify that the tone is or is not good, the pitch is or is not good, the phrasing is or is niot good, etc, etc.

both sides would be right, and wrong...

in large orchestras, there is a termination procedure, which prevents an abrupt and unilateral firing of palyers with long-standing incumbency. a tenure situation is usually adapted, and this is , IMO, a good thing overall.

with larger orchestras, if the conductor really wants someone out, the orchestra may have to end up "buying out" the player's contract - IOW - pay him/her to not show up. the player makes whatever $$ is left on the contract, but it is not renewed

smaller orchestras do not have such standardized work agreements in place - but a tenure plan for players of long-standing is very desirable....it hardly seems right for a player who has dne a fine job for 20 years to be abruptly and summarily fired by a newbie conductor, who may not even get a contract renewal. musicains are well-justified in seeking protection from this sort of action.
*****

Heck,

As I understand it, most professional orchestras' collective bargaining agreements call for binding arbitration in a situation where management aka The Maestro seeks to terminate a tenured musician. If that's correct, there's virtually no possibility of a subsequent trial because the law accords huge deference to an arbitrator's decision (I've been one) and a challenger in court must show that the decision meets the standard of "arbitrary and capricious," virtually an impossibility because, for a start, arbitrators know how to insulate their decisions from judicial review.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:38 am

I was curious about the "leadership" category. What leadership demands are there on a principal flute?
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:41 am

Ralph wrote:a challenger in court must show that the decision meets the standard of "arbitrary and capricious," virtually an impossibility because, for a start, arbitrators know how to insulate their decisions from judicial review.
I love that standard. After a 10 yr tryout of de novo review with the General Services Administration Board of Contract Appeals, we finally kissed it good by when the Republicans too the Congress. We returned to our "arbitrary and capricious" standard with GAO. It was like the lifting of a death sentence.
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Heck148
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Post by Heck148 » Tue Apr 26, 2005 6:38 am

Corlyss_D wrote:I was curious about the "leadership" category. What leadership demands are there on a principal flute?
to lead the flute section, at the very least...again, a most subjective issue.

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Post by Heck148 » Tue Apr 26, 2005 6:44 am

Ralph wrote:most professional orchestras' collective bargaining agreements call for binding arbitration in a situation where management aka The Maestro seeks to terminate a tenured musician.
I have no idea what the Oregon symphony contract terms might be...for smaller orchestras, or ones in which there is no CBA, the process can go many ways...

the same "expert panel" scenario could occur before arbitration as well - with each side employing its panels of experts to show the arbitrators that their subjective viewpoint is correct and the opposition's invalid...

I know in one case - Pittsburgh, with Maazel, the incumbent player's contract was essentially "bought out", since he could not be fired without a huge hassle.

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Post by Ralph » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:13 am

Heck148 wrote:
Ralph wrote:most professional orchestras' collective bargaining agreements call for binding arbitration in a situation where management aka The Maestro seeks to terminate a tenured musician.
I have no idea what the Oregon symphony contract terms might be...for smaller orchestras, or ones in which there is no CBA, the process can go many ways...

the same "expert panel" scenario could occur before arbitration as well - with each side employing its panels of experts to show the arbitrators that their subjective viewpoint is correct and the opposition's invalid...

I know in one case - Pittsburgh, with Maazel, the incumbent player's contract was essentially "bought out", since he could not be fired without a huge hassle.
*****

That's exactly the same as in academia. Firing a tenured professor like me is almost impossible absent the commission of a major crime or unavailability because of incarceration or confinement to a mental ward. So the "buy out" is the only real way for management to get rid of someone. And, fortunately, most losers DO have a price.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:46 am

Heck148 wrote:to lead the flute section, at the very least...again, a most subjective issue.
The reason I ask is I overdosed on leadership texts while at IRS (because IRS is a leadership-free zone, and they are clueless about mission too but that's a whole nother subject). While leadership skill is not as subjective as it looks, I grant you that in these circumstances it surely is subjective. I'm having a hard time seeing a leadership function among 3 people whose only mission is to sound good, esp. where the conductor seems to have taken on the role of section coach. I'm sure if the poor woman had any leadership skills before, he has completely undercut them and probably thinks she's too passive now.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Apr 26, 2005 11:58 am

Ralph wrote: Firing a tenured professor like me is almost impossible absent the commission of a major crime or unavailability because of incarceration or confinement to a mental ward. So the "buy out" is the only real way for management to get rid of someone. And, fortunately, most losers DO have a price.
It's tougher with government employees. A friend who occasionally finds himself bullied into representing a manager in a personnel action tells the hapless manager "the only way to get rid of a government employee is to shoot her." (It's always a 'her.') That's not really an incitement to violence but a prelude to telling the manager that it's going to take a lot of documentation, a lot of time, a lot of energy, several legal proceedings before the manager sees results, and most likely the manager will lose unless the employee committed a crime while on duty.
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Post by Heck148 » Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:32 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Heck148 wrote:to lead the flute section, at the very least...again, a most subjective issue.
I'm having a hard time seeing a leadership function among 3 people whose only mission is to sound good, esp.
but section unity of tone, articulation and phrasing is of paramount importance. nothing is worse than trying to lead a section in which the non-principal players can't or won't follow the lead of the principal...just because people are good players does not mean that they will gel as a section...the seconds, thirds, fourths, or whatever must make every effort to match the principal's sound, dynamic level, articulations and phrasings.
where the conductor seems to have taken on the role of section coach.
generally, this is micro-managing, and yields very poor results...

regarding section issues, the conductor should address the principal, then the principal addresses tyhe section. it is proper "chain of command", protocol...
I'm sure if the poor woman had any leadership skills before, he has completely undercut them and probably thinks she's too passive now.
I used to play in an orchestrta that suffered this interference from an incompetent boob of a conductor...

what was once a very competent, professional sounding woodwind section was completely undone by this meddling, egotistical jackass.

he essentially tried to "appoint" his designated leaders, which never, ever works, as any athletic coach or military leader will tell you. people bestow leadership upon those whom they trust, and are willing to follow, not whom some pseudo-expert tries to appoint...

this poor orchestra has floundered badly, and the woodwind section, which once sounded so good as an ensemble, now struggles along in a fearful, individual isolation, with essentially no section leadership from within. people have long since adapted the approach of playing to avoid making mistakes [and being reprimanded] rather than playing to positively express any musical idea or energy...

I'm so glad I don't play there any longer. it was really unmusical, and extremely stressful.

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Post by herman » Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:09 pm

Heck is right on the target.

It's sadly amusing to see that the reporter is saying the Oregon orchestra has improved vastly since it appointed this Vienna martinet (of whom I have never heard) while everything the reporter reports clearly points to a steady erosion of the orchestra.

Section leaders lead their sections. The material doesn't say how many weeks a year this Viennese wonder is conducting the orchestra, but in any case he schould not try to uproot the orchestra's morale by bypassing the orchestra's hierarchy.

Every orchestra member knows full well that if this guy has managed to eliminate the flute woman, another is up next - maybe due to the some problem with the conductor's own er, flute. :wink:

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:22 pm

Heck148 wrote:but section unity of tone, articulation and phrasing is of paramount importance. nothing is worse than trying to lead a section in which the non-principal players can't or won't follow the lead of the principal...just because people are good players does not mean that they will gel as a section...the seconds, thirds, fourths, or whatever must make every effort to match the principal's sound, dynamic level, articulations and phrasings.
Ah, now I see. Thank you for explaining it to me.
regarding section issues, the conductor should address the principal, then the principal addresses tyhe section. it is proper "chain of command", protocol...
Absolutely since there is one, it should be followed.
he essentially tried to "appoint" his designated leaders, which never, ever works, as any athletic coach or military leader will tell you. people bestow leadership upon those whom they trust, and are willing to follow, not whom some pseudo-expert tries to appoint...
Don't the conductor appoint the first chairs? If not, how are they chosen? By the section? You can tell I don't know anything about the mechanics of how an orchestra actually functions in daily operation.
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Post by pizza » Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:25 pm

From the Oregon SO website:

» Carlos Kalmar, music director
» Fact sheet
» International press acclaim
» James DePreist, laureate music director



"Carlos Kalmar turned up the heat at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra with a searing 'Rite of Spring.' It was hard to miss the theme of the all spring programme but what might have been cliché in the hands of some was electric under the baton of Mr. Kalmar who has become a popular guest conductor since he debuted here in 1989-90. Orchestras still seeking music directors would do well to look seriously at this maestro, who, besides holding posts in Vienna and Germany, is the new principal conductor of Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival. … In Johann Strauss Jr.'s 'Voices of Spring' he inspired wonderful detail of phrasing and such lightness, it was almost like watching a dance. He favoured unrushed tempos and a great deal of rubato, and the result was both genteel and heady. … Schumann's Spring Symphony was fresh, with an element of urgency in this strong reading. Mr. Kalmar pushed its outer movements forcefully, bringing out the lyricism while managing to illuminate the inner lines, so important in Schumann. … Mr. Kalmar's reading of the 'Rite of Spring' was taut and relentless, with more bite than any heard in Music Hall recently. He kept a tight rein on the ostinatos which exploded on cue to great effect. The Sacrificial Dance was high voltage. The orchestra played with pointed precision and orchestral soloists were exceptional. … [Mr. Kalmar] was awarded a standing ovation, the musicians insisted that Mr. Kalmar take a bow alone, the ultimate honour."
—Janelle Gelfand
Cincinnati Enquirer, February 2000




"Whatever else happens as this young summer music season unfolds, one has to give credit to the Grant Park Music Festival and its new tandem podium duo of Carlos Kalmar and James Paul. After the dismal trend toward oft-played standards and pops concerts, the lakefront festival's 2000 lineup offers the most adventurous classical programming in many summers, with much offbeat repertory and a healthy sampling of neglected American composers. … Sunday evening's concert featuring the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus led by principal conductor Kalmar surely qualifies, presenting a pair of infrequently heard Hungarian choral works by Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly. Hardly typical summer fare. … Kalmar's ardent conducting and the Grant Park Chorus' energized and full throated singing made clear the music's defiant nature. Orchestral playing was richly committed throughout, and while the climax lacked nothing in sonic heft, Kalmar ensured that the coda was suffused with the requisite benedictory glow. … Kalmar delivered a more nuanced and individual sonic palette in the populist closer, the Mussorgsky/Ravel "Pictures at an Exhibition" which received the evening's finest performance.
—Lawrence A. Johnson
Chicago Tribune, June 2000

"Kalmar saved the one masterpiece—Bernstein's Symphonic Suite from 'On the Waterfront'—for the end. … The score explodes in violent rhythmic riffs punctuated by saxophone, only to be calmed by a tender melody that begins in the solo flute and rises rapturously through the orchestra. Kalmar clearly adores this music, and he got his orchestra, including several excellent principal players, to put their hearts and sinew into it."
—John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, July 2000




"With its new principal conductor Carlos Kalmar on the podium, the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra ignored the rain, giving a positively sunny performance of Dvorak's frisky 'Scherzo Capriccioso.' Kalmar is drawing a new level of crisp, disciplined but highly expressive playing from these players. Their technical ability has always been high, but they are emerging as a lithe, responsive, energetic ensemble under Kalmar's baton. Dvorak's Scherzo bustled with robust, dancing melodies and exuberant sweep."
- Wynne Delacoma
Chicago Sun Times, June 2000

"Two rarely performed choral works, Bartok's Cantata Profana ('The Nine Enchanted Stags') and Kodaly's 'Psalmus Hungaricus,' opened the program. The evening concluded with Ravel's arrangement of Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition.' … Kalmar shaped the emotion carefully in these highly dramatic works. Nothing was overblown, and even the most familiar stretches of 'Pictures at an Exhibition' sounded fresh and spontaneous. … Throughout the evening, the orchestral playing was crisp and expressive. 'Pictures at an Exhibition' bristled with color, from the relaxed pace of the promenades between episodes to woodwinds that darted like nervous birds in the 'Tuileries' section."
—Wynne Delacoma
Chicago Sun Times, June 2000




"… The real news from Grant Park is that its new principal conductor is a master champion of American music. In just his first three weeks, the Uruguayan-born, Vienna-trained and based Carlos Kalmar has presented works by Andre Previn, John Corigliano, Morton Gould, Samuel Barber, Leo Sowerby and Leonard Bernstein. His remaining concerts this summer will feature more pieces by Barber and Bernstein, a major work from Arnold Schoenberg's American period, Copland's 'Appalachian Spring' and a concert with the Latin-American artists Inti-Illimani."
—Andrew Patner
Chicago Sun Times, July 2000

"Carlos Kalmar made a stunning impact conducting the dazzlingly inspired Anhaltisches Philharmonie. He took great care not to 'over sweeten the pudding' and so provided complete support to the production concept. … In Mr. Kalmar's musical interpretation, backed up by near perfect singing of the cast, one was positively able to feel the constant danger of the situation, the hidden uneasiness that lies over the events, the feeling of disaster creeping up on one. The audience was captured by the suspense."
- Dr. Herbert Henning
Volksstimm, October 1998




"Under the direction of Carlos Kalmar, the Anhaltisches Philharmonie played highly sensitively throughout the frequent abrupt changes of musical mood. Phrasing, tempo and orchestral tone-color were carefully communicated to the orchestra by Mr. Kalmar to produce an ideal setting supporting the multi-faceted concept of the production. Musical notes described intimate human feelings at moments of hope or deep despair, there was scarcely a musical gesture without meaning behind it."
—Matthias Frede
Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, October 1998

"Mozart's Linz Symphony had grit and propulsion and Kalmar and the orchestra sounded positively liberated, stepping up to the music with zest and meeting Mozart's muscular spirit with vitality."
—Shirley Fleming
New York Post, August 1998




"… In the Germanic works which rounded out the programme, Beethoven's 'Creatures of Prometheus' Overture and the Brahms Symphony No. 1, Kalmar impressed as a sensitive, probing and communicative young conductor the orchestra world should be paying serious attention to - and undoubtedly will before very long."
—John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, July 1998

"Carlos Kalmar leads the Anhaltische Philharmonic to musical top form. His debut as a Wagner conductor is quite rightly the jubilantly praised musical highlight of this premiere."
—Holländer Magdeburger
Volksstimme, May 1998




Wednesday in Jena, Carlos Kalmar conducted a concert that is certain to be one of the best Philharmonic concerts this season. The Suite to Kabalevsky's first opera 'Colas Breugnon,' whirred and shimmered with many colors. … The real discovery however was Schumann's 4th Symphony. Here were energetic, tight contours, an intensity with a nod towards Brahms. The Romanze was like the beating of a bird's wings, the Scherzo more of a would-be march than a former minuet, with magical rubato in the trio. And, oh! What can I say about the transition into the 4th movement? —A sunrise."
—Ute van der Sanden
Thüringer Neueste Nachrichten, May 1998

"Guest conductor Carlos Kalmar led a performance of The Planets by Holst that shimmered with color and crackled with energy."
—Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post, November 1988




"Some of music's greatest joys are those unexpected moments of discovery. One such moment came Friday night thanks to conductor Carlos Kalmar who made a very impressive U.S. debut with the Cincinnati Symphony. The Uruguayan-born conductor turned in an assured, well-conceived performance of Holst's The Planets. … Carlos Kalmar. Remember the name."
—Ray Cooklis
Cincinnati Enquirer, November 18, 1988

"… The reason that the Premiere became a great musical event was due to the merit of the wonderful General Music Director Carlos Kalmar and his orchestra—which followed him brilliantly throughout the evening. … With sure stylistic feeling and sense of tempo, he made the most of the emotion of the music by inspiring beautiful, fine and sensitively sustained bowing. However, at dramatic points he also created musical fire with his varied dynamic shading. It goes without saying that he gave all the important entrances, supporting, carrying and guiding the voices of the singers with his hands. … If there is any justice in the world this musical success should take Carlos Kalmar a major leap upwards in his career."
—K. Klebe
Opernglas, May 1997




"Everything worked out, thanks to Carlos Kalmar who is predestined to be a great conductor. Mr. Kalmar has a fine imagination for sound which combines friendliness with severity, carefully observes the various colors of sonority, and makes the musicians listen. It was the most beautiful symphony concert of the season."
—Wolfram Goertz
Rheinische Post, April 1990


http://www.orsymphony.org/orchestra/con ... almar.html

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Post by karlhenning » Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:27 pm

pizza wrote:- Dr. Herbert Henning
Volksstimm, October 1998
Boy, the place is getting fairly crowded with Drs Henning ....
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:36 pm

herman wrote: It's sadly amusing to see that the reporter is saying the Oregon orchestra has improved vastly since it appointed this Vienna martinet (of whom I have never heard) while everything the reporter reports clearly points to a steady erosion of the orchestra.
These kinds of transitions are always difficult at best. Without taking sides as to who has rights and who has obligations, I'd like to ask both of you, you and Heck, if you think it's necessarily an erosion or would the final product, when the orchestra sounds like the conductor wants it to, be a truer indicator of whether the orchestra was "improved" or just as flawed as before only now with lots of bodies lying around in pools of blood.
Section leaders lead their sections. The material doesn't say how many weeks a year this Viennese wonder is conducting the orchestra, but in any case he schould not try to uproot the orchestra's morale by bypassing the orchestra's hierarchy.
I grant you the guy doesn't sound very sharp, based on this report obviously sympathetic to the flutist. But, again without taking sides, sometimes the only way to get a group to gel and to perform adequately, nevermind exceptionally, is for a "troubleshooter" to come in and shake things up: dispose of the chronic underperformers, coach the marginal, cultivate new leaders, give them the authority as well as the responsibility, square the outfit away, and then turn it over to a successor.
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Post by Anne l. » Tue Apr 26, 2005 3:35 pm

Thanks, pizza. Kalmar sounds like a conductor to keep an eye on.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Apr 26, 2005 5:31 pm

From Bach-Cantatas.com

**************************************************************

Carlos Kalmar (Conductor)


Born: 1958 - Montevideo, Uruguay

The Uruguay-born conductor, Carlos Kalmar was born of Austrian parents. He showed an interest in music at an early age and began studying violin at age six. By age 15 his musical development led him to the Vienna Musikhochschule, where he studied conducting with Karl Österreicher. In June 1984 won First Prize at the Hans Swarowsky Conducting Competition in Vienna.

Kalmar has been music director of the Hamburg Symphony (1987 to 1991), the Stuttgart Philharmonic (1991 to 1995) and Anhaltisches Theater in Dessau, Germany (1996-2000). His symphony and opera guest conducting engagements throughout Europe and North America include return appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Berlin Radio Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the National Orchestra of Spain, the Cincinnati Symphony, the ORT Orchestra of Florence, Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, the Hamburg State Opera, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera, the Detroit Symphony, the Bournemouth Symphony, and the Zurich Opera House, among others.

Carlos Kalmar made his German debut in April 1985 with the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, which immediately invited him back for two more concerts. Further invitations to conduct in Germany followed, including the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonische Staatsorchester of Bremen, the Bochum Symphony Orchestra, Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra, Essen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Frankfurt Museumsorchester and the NDR Radio Orchestra in Hannover.

In June 2000, Carlos Kalmar made his highly successful British orchestra debut with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra as part of their prestigious "Scottish Proms" series in Glasgow. July 2000 saw his first concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Other recent guest engagements included the Rio de Janeiro Opera House Orchestra, Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Mozarteumorchester-Salzburg, Jeunesse Musicales World Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, and Colorado Symphony Orchestra, among others.

In 2000 Carlos Kalmar became the Principal Conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. Until recently he was also Music Director of Vienna’s Tonkünstlerorchester. In 2003 he was appointed as Music Director of the acclaimed Oregon Symphony. During the 2003-2004 season, Carlos Kalmar’s guest conducting engagements in North America include the Saint Louis Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony, and the Juilliard Orchestra.

Carlos Kalmar’s most recent recordings include the 2003 release of the Joachim and Brahms Violin Concertos featuring Rachel Barton and the Chicago Symphony, and American Works for Organ and Orchestra featuring David Schrader and the Grant Park Orchestra (2002), both on the Cedille Records label.

International critics have called him "skillfully guiding and buoyant" (Chicago Tribune); "gutsy and precise" (Cincinnati Post); "graceful and intensely propulsive" (Portland Oregonian); "athletically vigorous" (Indianapolis Star); "crystal clear and transparent"; "stylistic feeling and musical fire" (Opernglas); "positively liberated" with "grit and propulsion" (New York Post).

Carlos Kalmar resides in Vienna with his wife, Britta, and two daughters, Svenja and Katja.


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Post by Heck148 » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:00 pm

Corlyss_D wrote: Don't the conductor appoint the first chairs? If not, how are they chosen?
some conductor appointed the principals, and all the others, after the audition procedure has been carried thru. in this case, the principal flute's incumbency precedes the conductor's by decades.

that still does not address the issue of actual leadership. in any group of people, there will be the leaders and the followers...it goes most certainly for orchestras.
You can tell I don't know anything about the mechanics of how an orchestra actually functions in daily operation.
these are good questions. most people really don't know, but how would they?? most of the work regarding phrasing, articulation, dynamics, etc - gets done by the principals themselves as they work with each other, and with their sections...
the conductor certainly provides, or should provide, the overall view, the big idea - whenever the main theme comes in, it is to be played as such....
tempo changes will occur here, and here, we have a fermata here, with subito piano, etc...

the nitty-gritty tho is worked out "in the trenches", and usually is left alone by the conductor, unless he/she hears it as wrong, and in need of correction...

it takes many, many hours of rehearsal and performance for a conductor to really impress his/her own style on an orchestra...effective results can be achieved on a short-term basis - some of the greats, Stokowski, Reiner, Walter, etc, were able to impress their own approach to a remarkable degree when guest conducting, but these are the exceptions, rather than the rule.

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Post by aurora » Wed Apr 27, 2005 7:43 am

Oregon's mess is quite tame compared to the Seattle Symphony concertmaster situation

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Post by Guest » Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:16 am

Did they have to publish Kalmar's photo?

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Post by Ralph » Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:58 am

One of my first year law students is married to a principal musician in the Met orchestra and do I enjoy having lunch with this person. The internal workings, perhaps machinations, of a great orchestra are fascinating. Equally so is the reality that even with a strong union contract the Met musicians are virtual slaves compared to their counterparts in major symphony orchestras,
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Post by herman » Wed Apr 27, 2005 10:42 am

npwparis wrote:Did they have to publish Kalmar's photo?
I say this guy is fried.

He's clearly giving the flutist the finger in the 3d picture.

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Post by karlhenning » Wed Apr 27, 2005 10:47 am

Herman wrote:I say this guy is fried.
No, Herman.

Kalmar alla griglia

Cheers,
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Post by aurora » Wed Apr 27, 2005 10:59 am

Ralph wrote:One of my first year law students is married to a principal musician in the Met orchestra and do I enjoy having lunch with this person. The internal workings, perhaps machinations, of a great orchestra are fascinating. Equally so is the reality that even with a strong union contract the Met musicians are virtual slaves compared to their counterparts in major symphony orchestras,

The Met Orchestra musicians also topped the last salary chart I saw.

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Post by Heck148 » Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:04 pm

aurora wrote:The Met Orchestra musicians also topped the last salary chart I saw.
that chart is a bit vague and hard to understand - the MetOrch's yearly total is the highest in the US, yet the weekly paycheck is considerably less than the others...I don't know how they calculate this, or perhaps there are bonuses involved??
I know the Met plays more services per week than the symphonies.

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Post by Ralph » Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:43 pm

Heck148 wrote:
aurora wrote:The Met Orchestra musicians also topped the last salary chart I saw.
that chart is a bit vague and hard to understand - the MetOrch's yearly total is the highest in the US, yet the weekly paycheck is considerably less than the others...I don't know how they calculate this, or perhaps there are bonuses involved??
I know the Met plays more services per week than the symphonies.
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Post by Heck148 » Wed Apr 27, 2005 6:07 pm

Ralph wrote:
The last sentence is the answer, I was told.
OK, that makes sense - perhaps the weekly total on the chart was for an equal number of services. since the MetOrch plays more services then their total would be higher, even tho the "rate per" might be lower.

presently, Boston with its brand-new contract is highest, tho Chicago either has, or is negotiating a new contract which will no doubt be higher yet. also, the NYPO must be due for a new contract -

over the past few decades Chicago and NYPO have had the highest symphony orchestra pay. Boston, LAPO and Philadelphia are next.

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Post by Ralph » Wed Apr 27, 2005 7:01 pm

Heck148 wrote:
Ralph wrote:
The last sentence is the answer, I was told.
OK, that makes sense - perhaps the weekly total on the chart was for an equal number of services. since the MetOrch plays more services then their total would be higher, even tho the "rate per" might be lower.

presently, Boston with its brand-new contract is highest, tho Chicago either has, or is negotiating a new contract which will no doubt be higher yet. also, the NYPO must be due for a new contract -

over the past few decades Chicago and NYPO have had the highest symphony orchestra pay. Boston, LAPO and Philadelphia are next.
*****

The major U.S. orchestras are by and large in cities with highly prominent music schools or conservatories. A large number of New York Philharmonic musicians teach at Juilliard or Mannes or the Manhattan School of Music as well as engaging in tutoring. I assume those activities significantly augment their regular paycheck.
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Post by Heck148 » Wed Apr 27, 2005 7:15 pm

Ralph wrote: The major U.S. orchestras are by and large in cities with highly prominent music schools or conservatories. A large number of New York Philharmonic musicians teach at Juilliard or Mannes or the Manhattan School of Music as well as engaging in tutoring. I assume those activities significantly augment their regular paycheck.
yes - those are completely separate engagements from their orchestral positions.

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