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Discordant Note Over Passing of Orchestra Baton

June 18, 1992

As the majority members of the Board of Directors of the Brentwood-Westwood Symphony Orchestra, we feel compelled to respond to the article in the June 7 edition of the Times Westside Section concerning the present direction of the orchestra.

The symphony is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting four to six concerts each year free of charge to the public. The board donates its time, money and a great deal of effort in order to present the finest music to our community. With the exception of the personnel manager, board members receive no financial remuneration of any kind. In fact, a high percentage of the funds required to provide free concerts is donated by board members from their personal funds. We have no financial or political ax to grind.

We are deeply saddened that Alvin Mills and some members of his family have elected to create an adversarial relationship and lobby their position through the media. Ironically, the action by the board majority was intended to ensure Mills' continuing relationship with the orchestra by making some changes necessary to enable the group to continue its very existence. Clearly, if the orchestra cannot solve its funding problems, there will be no vehicle in this community for any conductor.

Specifically, the board wished to retain Mills as a vital part of the orchestra indefinitely. To protect Mr. Mills' income, the board agreed that he would be paid his normal stipend for two full years subject to the availability of funds. At the same time, in order to increase audiences and sources of funds, the board decided to elevate Mills' hand-picked assistant conductor to the conductor's position. The purpose is to expand the orchestra's following while acknowledging Mills' contribution. Any suggestion that Mills has done something "wrong" is totally without foundation in terms of the motives and reasoning of the board. How unfortunate that at a time when we should all be pulling together to accomplish the desired end for the community, this has been turned into a popularity contest. We hope Mr. Mills will reconsider after he has had some time to consider the true purpose of the board's action.

LEAH S. BERGMAN

President, Brentwood-Westwood

Symphony Orchestra Assn.

The Times welcomes all viewpoints from readers about issues on the Westside. Letters should be as brief as possible and are subject to condensation. They must include signature, valid mailing address and telephone number, if any. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used. Send letters to: Westside Section Editor, 1717 4th St., Suite 200, Santa Monica, 90401.

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