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Fate of the Batiquitos Music Festival in Doubt : Continuing Financial Troubles Could Bring Ambitious Program to a Halt

July 05, 1988|KENNETH HERMAN

CARLSBAD — Taps hasn't sounded for the financially troubled Batiquitos Festival and Music Institute, but the bugler may be warming up in the wings.

Monday, after an emergency meeting of the organization's board of directors, artistic director Michael Tseitlin said the festival "will continue and we are making pleas to the public for more support." He did not say how much money is need to keep the festival afloat.

Whether Tseitlin's optimism is warranted has yet to be seen. After another board meeting reportedly continued late into the night Monday.

And a general meeting of the board, festival teachers, players and students was to be held this morning at UC San Diego to chart the rest of the festival and institute events, according to Bertram Turetzky of the institute's string faculty.

The festival and institute are the brainchild of Tseitlin, a Soviet emigre violinist on the faculty of Cal State L.A. At its inception last year it consisted of just four pops concerts.

Ambitious plans for this summer called for a festival to run from June 22 to July 24, with seven outdoor full symphony orchestra concerts at the edge of the Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad, a dozen chamber music concerts in La Jolla and an institute at UC San Deigo, which attracted 260 music students from around the country.

Last week, about 50 faculty members of the summer institute were asked to accept half pay because of Batiquitos' lack of funds. At Sunday evening's orchestra concert at Carlsbad's Sammis Pavilion, one of the students enrolled in the institute made an impassioned request to the audience for contributions to keep the festival from going under.

Serious financial problems began in March, only a month after the festival's plans were announced to the press. After a management and board shake-up, new board president Ted Frye of Carlsbad gave assurances that funding problems had been resolved. Frye did not return calls after Monday's board meeting, and board member Norman Solomon referred all questions to Tseitlin.

According to Marian Liebowitz, who resigned as head of the institute's woodwind department Friday, the festival management prepared but did not distribute a memo dated July 1, warning that the entire Batiquitos project's continuance was dependent on the success of Sunday's pavilion concert.

"I resigned because I was put in an unacceptable position," Liebowitz said. "I was told that the festival was unable to honor faculty contracts, and I was asked to convince festival artists due to arrive in San Diego to fly here at their own expense and work with the remote possibility that ample funds would be available in August. I was then told that these funds were not secured."

Liebowitz was also disturbed that students who had paid non-refundable tuition and housing would not receive instruction from some of the advertised instructors.

Alan Siebert, a colleague of Liebowitz at San Diego State, resigned Monday as head of the institute's brass department.

"I resigned because promises made by Tseitlin were not kept," said Siebert, "and because we were asked a second time to accept a downward adjustment in pay."

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