An Inside Job: The Saga of the Columbus Symphony

So the Symphony spent two years finding their golden boy international conductor from Montreal. They thought they snagged a super star who would spend time in Columbus; live there and be a vital part of the Columbus community not just as Maestro but as Citizen.

Four years later, their Maestro resigns citing that he wants to spend more time in Montreal with his new family. One certainly cannot fault the Maestro for that decision. But when the Search Committee elected him to be their next music director, did they really think that he would be a visible fixture and a local ambassador for the Symphony? What are these Search Committees thinking? Are there no talented, experienced, excellent American conductors to choose from? Are all of us more experienced conductors just not “cute” enough?

“Oy, so we got to go through yet another two year search? Nah, let’s just pick out a bunch of conductors who we already know and hope we can find a suitable one who may, you know…stick around for awhile. We don’t need no stinkin’ suitable applicants!”

The news of their Maestro’s departure hit the newspapers on June 18, 2013, stating that a 10-12 person Search Committee will be formed. Two weeks later, their new season was posted online with an array of guest conductors, some American, one from Montreal (really?). The fastest search in modern times! At the speed of a mouse click!

With the problems the Columbus Symphony have endured-firings, strikes, salary cuts, deficits- I sincerely hope that this “expedited” search works. The “Search Committee” owes it to the musicians and the generous people who are the patrons of this Orchestra to choose a conductor who will really invest his time and be a true citizen of Columbus, not just one who flies in and splits.

Their departing Maestro, as talented as he may be, has a right to make a very personal decision regarding his career and private life. But there are many others, perhaps equally as talented, who understand that a music director’s work is not over when the applause dies down. It just begins.

Pssst…Omaha…you might want to get your search committee together…I’m just saying.


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