California Symphony music director fired by a small number of board members

Posted on: September 24, 2010

In Friday’s (9/24) Contra Costa Times (California), Sue Gilmore writes, “California Symphony founder and music director Barry Jekowsky was officially fired by a small contingent of the organization’s board Tuesday night, but the real ax fell in a voice mail two nights earlier, he said Thursday. Jekowsky, 56, was at home Sunday night in Tiburon when he received a phone message from the board’s president informing him that another conductor had been hired to open the symphony’s season Oct. 3 in Walnut Creek. On Tuesday, seven of the California Symphony’s 28 directors, including the five executive committee members, met, and the termination was approved. … Michael Weiner, a semiretired physician who has been an active board member for six years … said that although he and other board members were aware that a symphony leader contract was being drawn up for consideration, the full board never saw it or signed off on it. … Jekowsky, who has never had a contract with the organization, says he has no idea why he was fired. … The members of the orchestra also were caught off-guard by Jekowsky’s sudden departure. Symphony principal oboist Laura Reynolds, also chairwoman of the players negotiating committee, said she alerted fellow players by e-mail when she heard Wednesday night about the firing. ‘It was a surprise; I wasn’t expecting this to happen,’ she said. ‘It’s a difficult transition for the organization, certainly, but the organization has been going through a transition all this year, reducing the number of concerts and the number of rehearsals.’” Board President Mike Soza issued an official statement that “the changes are part of a new direction that the symphony is taking.”

Photo: California Symphony Music Director Barry Jekowsky (left) and José Francisco Salgado address questions from the audience after the West Coast premiere of the video suite Gustav Holst’s The Planets, October 2007.

Posted September 24, 2010