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1 Robert Levine

In a blogging career lasting about 5 years now, I’ve learned not to expect much feedback. It’s not because people don’t read blogs about orchestras or the AFM - the two topics I write about - because the traffic stats show otherwise. And it’s not that people don’t care, because otherwise why would they take the trouble to read the blogs in the first place?

So I’ve been surprised by the reaction to what I’ve written about the New Hampshire Music Festival. I’ve gotten emails from Festival musicians, former Festival musicians, and local Festival supporters. I guess it’s possible I’m the target of a faux grassroots campaign - but every single email I’ve gotten to date has expressed a kind of sorrowful anger over the loss of something special in the writers’ lives due to the actions of Festival management.

Summer festivals are different from our day jobs. People go to work every day, whether in an orchestra, an office, a cockpit, a courtroom, or any other workplace, for a variety of reasons, but generally the need to earn a living is at the top of the list. People go to work at summer festivals for very different reasons, and money is not usually one of them.

Certainly no NHMF musician is doing much more than break even out of what the Festival pays, and the housing sounds far from luxurious. They go not because they are treated well economically - they go because of the experience. I’ve done a few summer festivals over the years, and can testify to the kind of loyalty they can engender amongst musicians.

So the emails I’ve received aren’t about being deprived of a gig that these musicians need to pay the rent; they’re about the loss of something that they love. But, if the Festival really has inspired that kind of passion amongst musicians and audience members alike - exactly what problem is it that David Graham and Henry Fogel are trying to solve?


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  1. Comment by Ronald Patterson
    December 4, 2019 at 3:35 PM

    Mr.Levine,

    When I moved back to the US in 1999 to become the Violin Professor at the University of Washington, I “retired” from 34 years as a concertmaster (Miami Philharmonic, Denver Symphony, Houston Symphony and the last 20 years with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic). I was invited by NHMF conductor Paul Polivnik in 2001 to become the concertmaster of the NHMF. What I discovered was the most incredible assembly of great musicians who came together to live in a dorm, play symphony and chamber music, and enjoy each other during six weeks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The level of playing was some of the best I had ever experienced; the lack of orchestra politics was truly rare; the interaction with the public unique in my experience; and the determination of David Graham to destroy this NHMF environment obvious.

    I have been around orchestra managers so long that I thought I had seen it all. But the ego, lack of sensitivity and gross ignorance of David Graham coupled with a misdirected Board of Directors bent on accomplishing a non-music-related and failure-headed task of building a new concert site was the perfect storm for destruction.

    There was absolutely no reason to change the NHMF. Advertise, yes; change, no. I feel a real loss as does the public and the other musicians. The fact that this kind of action is allowed to happen to a great music festival cannot be allowed. Thank you for getting the information out.

    Ron Patterson
    Concertmaster, NHMF since 2001