Daniel Lewis has resigned as conductor and musical adviser to the Glendale Symphony after only one season, putting the orchestra back on its search for a leader to replace its long-time conductor Carmen Dragon, who died last year.
In a statement released by the Glendale Symphony Orchestra Assn., Lewis was quoted as saying that other demands on his time preclude his continuing with the orchestra after this season.
However, several members of the orchestra said they thought Lewis left after disagreements with the Symphony board over choice of music. Lewis, they said, wanted to move the Glendale Symphony away from some of its traditional pops and lighter classical repertory into more serious, and more modern, music.
"I knew Dan Lewis and Glendale would never make it together over the long term," said one musician, who asked not to be identified.
Lewis is chairman of the conducting studies department at USC and has "quite a few" guest conducting engagements next year including commitments with the Seattle Symphony and the San Diego Symphony, according to the statement. "These, in addition to my graduate conducting students, are enough," Lewis was quoted as saying.
An assistant at USC said Monday that Lewis was out of town and could not be reached for further comment.
Members of the Glendale Symphony board denied that there had been any friction with Lewis. In fact, said John A. Grande, president of the orchestra association, "we had hoped this wasn't going to be a short-term thing."
"Daniel was extremely helpful and influential in our making an adjustment after Carmen's death," Grande said. "We knew this was going to be a year of transition and Daniel consented to help us and he did that very well."
Two years ago, Lewis quit as conductor of the Pasadena Symphony, a post he had held for 11 years. He bitterly criticized the Pasadena board for lack of financial support and for what he described as its insistence that he stick to tried-and-true repertory.
"Pasadena's loss was our gain," Shirley Seeley, volunteer executive director of the Glendale Symphony's support group, said of Lewis. She also denied that a Pasadena-like situation had developed in Glendale.
Symphony members said that Lewis brought a spark of new life and at least temporary stability to the orchestra that was increasingly led by guest conductors during Dragon's bout with cancer.
Grande said that an advisory committee has been formed to interview potential replacements. He said that he hoped that could be done by May, when the program was scheduled to go to the printers, but he also said that the orchestra might go with a season of guest conductors next year.