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Symphony's Artistic Losses Climb

November 12, 1986|HILLIARD HARPER | San Diego County Arts Writer

SAN DIEGO — Tuesday's cancellation of the San Diego Symphony's winter concert season may lend the symphony fiscal credibility in the eyes of the business community, but it almost certainly will cost the symphony artistically.

Four of 15 principal positions are vacant. Concertmaster Andres Cardenes and principal horn player Jerry Folsom already have lined up auditions because of the cancellation. So have a number of violinists. Others, such as the principal bassoonist, Dennis Michel, are keeping their options open.

"They're going to lose a lot of good people," violinist Beth Folsom said of the symphony. "There are so many good people here, they're bound to get jobs if there are openings."

Folsom and a number of other San Diego violinists auditioned for a position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic two weeks ago.

So how good is the San Diego Symphony? Good enough that Folsom said an acting principal who left to take a fat contract with a bigger and supposedly better orchestra, called to report that the music-making there was far below the level in San Diego and wanted to come back--and would have come back if there would be a season.

Cardenes' departure would be a stunning artistic loss. "Without even saying much" one player said, Cardenes inspired the other strings to perform as an ensemble with unprecedented precision and unified tone. But Cardenes is young and can't be expected to wait around San Diego. Finding a quality replacement for him will not be easy.

One factor in the symphony board's favor is that far more musicians graduate from college each year than there are jobs. It's a buyer's market, and San Diego can at least outbid the regional orchestras to fill positions.

Canceling the season has not improved the symphony's other big artistic problem--poor relations with the musicians that get worse each year. Put simply, the musicians no longer trust management and the board. Many of the musicians believe that board never intended to have a 1986 winter season.

The board did not want to have a season because putting on concerts with the construction work on Symphony Towers would be a hassle, the musicians say; therefore, the board proposed a set of terms in the contract talks that the musicians would have to refuse, resulting in a deadlock that would cause a canceled season.

The musicians unanimously have refused the board's proposals, including an 11% wage cut and changes in auditioning and firing procedures.

Was there a hidden agenda in the board's proposals? Several facts argue against such a scheme. If the board did not plan keep the hall open for the season, why did it spend $500,000 on improving sight lines this year? If no season were planned, why did the Symphony Towers contractor arrange with the fire marshal for approval of fire exits for concerts? And why is the La Jolla Chamber Music Society still planning to present the first of five concerts this season in the hall Dec. 2?

Perhaps the "unacceptable" contract demands are merely part and parcel of bargaining. But try to get the musicians to believe there is no plot. At this stage of the game the musicians suspect everything the board does.

GLOBE GAB: Is there theater in Tijuana? Of course there is, and an international theater workshop will give students and professionals on both sides of the border a chance to expand the knowledge of each other's style of theater.

Co-sponsored by the Old Globe Theatre's bicultural wing, Teatro Meta; Tijuana's Andres Soler Instituto, and the Southwestern College theater department, the half-day event begins at noon Saturday. The Globe's Craig Noel, San Diego Rep's Douglas Jacobs and the Instituto's Jorge Andres Fernandez will lead a panel of distinguished professionals in a discussion of theater in Mexico and the United States.

Theater exercises, supper and a performance of the musical "Nine" at Southwestern College are part of the program.

Globe Managing Director Tom Hall has received the Arts Administrator of the Year Award from Arts Management, a New York arts news service.

ARTBEATS: Symphony angel Muriel Gluck has given the San Diego Museum of Art a Modigliani portrait, "Le Garcon aux Yeux Bleus" . . .

Architect Tom Grondona, known for his whimsical designs, is creating an environment in the U.S. Grant Hotel for a Nov. 21 benefit auction for Installation Gallery. Furniture made by artists that will go to the highest bidder at the event is on view now in the hotel's C Street entrance . . .

For $45, art lovers can get a guided bus tour (with lunch) to Palm Springs. Included are visits to the Palm Springs Desert Museum, private collectors' homes, artists studios, and galleries. Two tours, sponsored by the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, are scheduled for Thursday and Nov. 21.

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