Oops, San Antonio Did It Again

The mixed messages continue to pour out of the San Antonio Symphony executive offices…


Just when you thought the situation in San Antonio might bet settling down in anticipation of improving David Green, SAS president & CEO, was quoted in the 12/08/06 edition of the San Antonio Express-News contradicting himself.

Express-News writer, Mike Greenberg, put together two superbly written articles that provide some more insight into the orchestra’s recent events. Prior to this article, David Green and the SAS board chair and chair-elect have publicly stated that one of the primary reasons influencing their decision not to renew music director, Larry Rachleff’s contract is because he would not reside in San Antonio.

In fact, this was such a paramount issue to the SAS executive board that when David Green was initially talking about prospective music director candidates to the Express-News, he said “If you’re not prepared to move to San Antonio, don’t apply.”

Now, 31 days later, David Green is quoted in the 12/08/06 edition of the same newspaper saying “Nonresidency is not a deal-breaker if [a new music director] can provide the presence and provide the role we envision. It’s the level of involvement.”

To all intents and purposes, the SAS executive board has now moved from demanding a residency requirement for any new music director to downgrading it to status of not being a deal-breaker. For however long the executive board decides to keep this new mantra, their focus now seems to be on finding a candidate that meets the executive board’s parameters for an acceptable level of involvement.

Unfortunately, the SAS executive board hasn’t been able to clearly express exactly what those parameters are although it would be useful to patrons and stakeholders if they did exactly that. Clearly, the executive board had discussed what these parameters are and ranked them in order of importance; otherwise, they would not have been able to arrive at the decision to not renew Mr. Rachleff’s contract.

As such, it should be a fairly simple task to publicly outline each of the issues within those parameters so the public can see exactly what it is the executive board wishes to find in a new music director. All anyone in the San Antonio area can do at this point is to wait and see if the executive board decides that is something they plan to do.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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1 thought on “Oops, San Antonio Did It Again

  1. SEE?! Now, let’s get down to what the real problem is San Antonio. You are worried about the financial well-being of the institution and think that a conductor’s residency will be a means to an end of solving that problem.(?)
    How about reorganizing, some new strategies, etc. w/in the organization rather than getting rid of one of the best conductors around!

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