Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Pastreich Papers

Joshua Kosman notes, quite correctly, that I was on a bit of a tear the other week about Peter Pastreich's new position at Philharmonia Baroque and also about Josh's reporting on same. While I wouldn't expect the San Francisco Symphony strike to be the first thing discussed in an article about current events, I wouldn't expect it to be completely absent, either. When an administrator has a long and distinguished career running an orchestra and it ends with a bitter labor dispute, that is relevant to his subsequent career and to any discussion of his past career. The episode doesn't need to be in every article, but it needs to be in the first. After that, sure, focus on PBO's schedule, fundraising, and programming.

While Joshua may have been namby-pamby in the 1997 article, his blog posting spells out Pastreich's errors in the labor dispute quite clearly. Some of that belonged in the Chron article about Pastreich joining PBO.

As far as the Honolulu Symphony goes, here are a couple of links relevant to the "unsourced" Music News item (there are plenty more out there):
Consultants are typically hired to find problems and identify solutions. "Here's the problem - oh, and you could make me the solution" looks just a bit like self-dealing.


Drew McManus said...

You go girl, way to keep those old articles archived!

Operagirl said...

The problem is, Patreich's tenure at the SFS didn't END with the bitter strike in 1997. It ENDED in 1999, AFTER he succesfully negotiated an historic six year labor agreement more than one year early. How is THAT not relevant, if you're going to indicate to readers that a bitter labor dispute was a huge factor in his tenure at the Symphony, I ask. So, yes, Patreich's history of tough negotiations is important - but if you're going to bring it up, it's important to be complete and accurate. At least I think so. So, the 1999 successful negotiation would seem as much a part of the process of dredging up history as the 1997 strike.

Lisa Hirsch said...

You're quite right, the successful 1999 negotiations were the real end of his tenure. I should have said something indicating that. One wonders if he would have been at SFS longer had it not been for the strike.

My big point, of course, is that Joshua's recent Chron story about Pastreich omitted all mention of the strike.

Steve Dinion said...

As musician representatives who worked closely with Peter Pastreich during his consultancy for the Honolulu Symphony in 2004-05 (one as orchestra committee chair, another as symphony board representative, the third as union business agent), we feel an obligation to respond to and correct the misinformation that has been put forward about his time here.

Mr. Pastreich spent most of a season investigating, then searching for and helping implement solutions to some of the deep dysfunction undermining the HSO. The Musicians already had a high opinion of his skills from his previous work here; during his 2004-05 consultancy, our respect for his honesty, commitment and ability only grew. His recommendations - which did not include his being offered any position with the organization - seemed to us exactly what was needed, at long last, to improve the HSO’s situation. So, when the Symphony's executive director left suddenly (not at Mr. Pastreich's instigation) and the board's executive committee unanimously asked him to step in as interim, we wholeheartedly concurred.

Unfortunately, key board leadership had an unexplained change of heart and withdrew their support for what the executive committee had decided, so Mr. Pastreich felt he could no longer accept the position and ended his consultancy. It was as a result of his leaving (and not the other way around, as mis-reported by the SF Classical View) that several key board members (including the State's former First Lady, the head of one of the largest banks in the State, and the publisher of the major newspaper) then resigned. These board members (some of the most important community leaders the Symphony has ever had on its board) had wanted to help the HSO meet its challenges and appeared to welcome Mr. Pastreich's experience, vision, and insight. Once support for Mr. Pastreich was withdrawn, however, we musicians could easily see why they would want nothing more to do with a board that would refuse a great opportunity when it was offered.

It's sad to us that such a well-documented and, for us, quite painful story about a pivotal time in the Honolulu Symphony's history could be so twisted around and portrayed as fact. The truth is that Mr. Pastreich's involvement led to one of the most hopeful moments in the HSO's recent history, and we continue to have the greatest respect, affection and gratitude for Mr. Pastreich and what he tried to achieve here.

-Ken Hafner (trumpet), Steve Flanter (viola), Steve Dinion (percussion)

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, Steve, Ken, and Steve, for the additional information. Can I post your comments as a separate blog entry?