Peter Pastreich served as executive director of the San Francisco Symphony during its period of most dramatic growth, from April 1978 to April 1999 – a tenure of 21 years marked by numerous historic accomplishments and working partnerships with music directors Michael Tilson Thomas, Herbert Blomstedt and Edo De Waart. He represented the San Francisco Symphony in the planning and construction of Davies Symphony Hall, which opened in September 1980, and in the successful acoustical and architectural renovation of the hall in 1992. Under his leadership, the orchestra dramatically increased its budget, income from ticket sales and endowment, resulting in an unprecedented sixteen consecutive years of balanced budgets. Highlights of his tenure include the founding of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, the launch of the Symphony’s acclaimed Adventures in Music education program, numerous recording contracts and the release of forty recordings, syndicated radio broadcasts on over 450 stations across the country, and a significant touring program throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.What the long quotation above doesn't mention is the nine-week strike that took place toward the end of Pastreich's tenure at SFS.
Here's what Joshua Kosman said about the 1996-97 strike after it finally ended:
Not even Willie Brown could make sense of this dispute -- after two negotiating sessions, the mayor told The Chronicle that he couldn't figure out what the issues were and was washing his hands of the mess.Read the whole thing here. And, if you're not already concerned, a 2005 item in San Francisco Classical Voice details what happened when Pastreich, who was consulting with the troubled Honolulu Symphony, suggested himself as interim president: three board members and the CEO resigned. He wasn't appointed.
That's because the health package, the pension payments and all the rest of it were merely symptoms of a deeper problem.
What really caused the strike -- and what will cause another one three years from now if it isn't addressed immediately -- is the atmosphere of distrust and lack of communication that has grown between the musicians and management, particularly Executive Director Peter Pastreich.
Both sides know it, too. Throughout the strike, musicians' spokesman Paul Shinoff repeatedly said that the real story behind the strike wasn't the ostensible contract issues so much as management's lordly attitude toward orchestra members. In a radio commercial during the strike, the musicians compared management's style to that of 17th century aristocrats.
Now, it's not likely that PBO, a much smaller organization than SFS, with a shorter season and different labor arrangements, will run into these kinds of issues. But you never know. I just hope there's no rerun at PBO of what happened at SFS.