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October 9, 2012 > Letter to the Editor: Symphony board actions are not right

Letter to the Editor: Symphony board actions are not right

The Fremont Symphony Orchestra (formerly known as the Fremont-Newark Philharmonic Orchestra) has a long and rich history in the Tri-Cities area. I have been associated with the symphony for the past 30 + years, having served as the President of the Fremont-Newark Philharmonic Guild for the 24th and then the Silver 25th anniversary year. It was my honor to serve with the now deceased Philharmonic's Board President, Dr. David Johnson. When I read of the changing of the guard of Maestro David Sloss, (and the way in which it was done), after serving for over 30 years as Musical Director/Conductor and musician extraordinaire, I was deeply saddened.

We all know that when economic climates go south, one of the main things that suffer in a community and schools is the arts. The symphony has been a jewel in this community for nearly 50 years. It hasn't always been easy. But somehow it always has managed to stay afloat, with strong community support.

What is an orchestra anyway? It is foremost a collection of musicians who collaborate to make fine music. That doesn't just happen overnight. It takes musical leadership and commitment, and frankly, someone whom musicians admire and respect even if the monetary compensation is not always what it should be.

I find it particularly sad that the man who has guided this musical endeavor, probably the most well known and highly respected musical organization in our community, would not/might not be there to conduct that opening concert of the 50th season, is a very sad notion indeed, and just not right.

It seems that during a transition period, guest conductors are invited to work with the orchestra to see if there is a good fit (from both perspectives). During such a transition period, I would humbly suggest that Maestro Sloss (if he would agree) come back to conduct at least the first concert of the 50th season; guest conductors could conduct one or two concerts during the season, and then Maestro Sloss be given a big sendoff at the end of the 50th season.

The orchestra obviously loves him and loves working with him, the audiences over the years, from the concerts in the Ohlone College gymnasium to the Hayward Centennial Hall and Chabot Theater to the Gary Soren Smith Performing Arts Jackson Theater, obviously love him. Dismissing him (especially in the way it was done) is not the way to solve the orchestra's financial woes.

As someone who has supported the symphony for many years, maybe not as much financially as others, but in intangible ways of promoting and praising our symphony orchestra in Fremont, I don't know if I can continue to support it unless this situation is made right. And I have a feeling there are many long time supporters in this community who would agree with me. So, Fremont Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, what can you do to rectify this situation, hold the musicians who make up the Fremont Symphony Orchestra together, and let them have a final season (or at least a portion thereof) to work with and say farewell to their beloved conductor?

Also sorely missing from the President of the Board's letter to patron's announcing this major change was any acknowledgement to the then General Manager, Susan Rose. Tragically, she recently passed away from ALS. The Fremont Symphony was practically Sue's life, and it was sad that she was not acknowledged in this letter by the Symphony before her death (although many Symphony and Guild members were being supportive of her in her final days).

Sharon Xavier de Sousa

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