Monday, June 15, 2009

Postscript to Pastreich

The following was posted in the comments to an earlier posting, and I thought it should be more prominently displayed:
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 Pastreich was withdrawn, however, we musicians could easily see why they would want nothing more to do with a board that would refuse a great opportunity when it was offered.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)
I guess the newspapers articles I cited got things very wrong, and I'd love to see other reporting on the subject.

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