Though he does "not dispute" reports that the Pacific Symphony board of directors has voted against extending his contract, founding conductor Keith Clark said Wednesday that his options include remaining with the orchestra in some capacity and that he envisions a place for himself in the orchestra's future.
"If I felt that there was not significant support for my leadership remaining here," he said, "I would resign. I would not wish to stay. But I think the support is there."
At the same time, Clark said he plans to devote an increasing amount of time to guest-conducting assignments with other orchestras.
At a long, closed board meeting Monday night, votes were taken involving Clark's continuing relationship with the orchestra. Board president John Evans on Wednesday refused to confirm reports that Clark was told that his contract would not be extended beyond the 1988-89 season. Other board officials remained unavailable for comment.
Clark said Wednesday that "this controversy" over his future had divided the board, leaving it short of what he called "a numerical mandate" as to how long Clark should stay on.
"If an organization is going to contemplate a change in its fundamentals, it should be done with a broad mandate of the supporters and the leadership of the community," he said. "That numerical mandate does not exist (on the Pacific Symphony board)."
Clark, who was about to depart for Czechoslovakia to be guest conductor for the Radio Symphony of Bratislava, also said the Pacific Symphony's problems go far beyond whether he should stay on as music director.
"That's not the real story," he said. "The real story is that in the last year we have developed some severe financial difficulties that, frankly, threaten the very existence of this orchestra."
He declined to elaborate.
A source on the board said there would be an executive committee meeting Thursday morning to "hammer out something acceptable to everyone."
Clark started the Pacific Symphony in 1969 with, he said, "a grant of $2,000 and plans on my kitchen table." He has been its music director and conductor ever since. The orchestra's budget has now reached $3 million, and it performs regularly at the Orange County Center for the Performing Arts.
But in recent years, certain members of the board have said off the record that the orchestra has outgrown the administrative and musical talents of its founder.