Thursday, December 15, 2005

Breaking Up

No, not me; this blog will continue and my partner and I are fine. No, I'm thinking about the sad breakup of the Audubon Quartet. Daniel J. Wakin has had a couple of excellent articles in the NY Times this week:Personnel changes happen pretty often in chamber music groups; I'm sure they don't all happen amicably, but it's possible to avoid the kinds of issues that have plagued the Audubon. To start with, chamber groups need workable, written agreements - by-laws or contracts - agreed to by all, that govern personnel issues, from what's acceptable behavior to how to handle disagreements. Neither of Wakin's articles mentions whether or when mediators were brought in to help the Audubon with its problems; I myself have witnessed the kind of good that can be done by a skilled mediator. It seems there was no arbitration requirement in the event of an unresolvable conflict. It is clear that the Audubon did not properly keep up the legal end of their nonprofit corporation, however, which couldn't have helped.

This paragraph especially caught my eye, though; David Ehrlich is the former violinist who has sued the other three members of the quartet:
Mr. Ehrlich, who did not immediately respond to a phone message, has said that while he finds the loss of the instruments tragic, he needs the money for lawyers' fees. He said he was unfairly and summarily fired by three people who conspired against him, and that he had to sue to salvage his reputation.
I guess that had he not sued, Mr. Ehrlich would very likely have the reputation of being someone who is difficult to work with and who left the Audubon under a cloud. Having sued, he will have the reputation of being not only difficult to work with, but willing to sue former colleagues so that they lose their homes and instruments. Is that really an improvement? Has his reputation been salvaged by his actions?

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