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BSO leadership has produced a sour tune

Brian Prechtl, co-chairman of the BSO players, talks about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra abruptly canceling concerts and shortening the season. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun video)

I have been a resident of Baltimore for the last 25 years and a subscriber to the Baltimore Symphony for just about as long. Starting with John Gidwitz, I have seen presidents come and go, some very good and others decidedly not even qualified to hold their positions. In my memory, nothing matches the incompetence of the current one, Peter Kjome. I'd like to know why he hasn't been fired (“‘I just want to work’: BSO musicians say threatened job cuts could disrupt lives, jeopardize needed healthcare,” June 5).

He has negotiated in very poor faith with the BSO's incredibly talented musicians for going on a full year. After setting a record for fundraising and then bragging about it, he fired the vice president of development who was behind that success. He has been intimidated by some of the volunteer leadership to the point where he has not requested from the BSO Trust the needed amounts of annual funding allowable under state law, and every single time I have tried to personally engage him, he has, in robotic fashion, recited exactly the same sentences to me in perfect order which reflect his lack of understanding of orchestra management, the music business and the arts in general.

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I have been a steady contributor to the orchestra, stopping my donations once before when I had a major disagreement with the individual who was president at the time. He left soon thereafter. My wife and I made a six-figure bequest to the BSO five years ago, and I am now going to cancel it with the same abruptness with which Mr. Kjome last week canceled the summer season he had planned for the orchestra. We will instead bequeath the money directly to the BSO musicians.

Mr. Kjome was far from being the first choice for his job. Now, we can all see why. This is a moral tragedy for classical music, for the Baltimore Symphony musicians, a truly world-class group of artists, and mostly for the thousands of subscribers and donors to the orchestra, many of whom are feeling as if their support may have been enlisted under false pretenses. Shame on the board and shame on the management!

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Bill Nerenberg

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