Orchestra Nova cancels October concerts, conductor Jung-Ho Pak resigns

From Orchestra NOVA reports

Orchestra Nova San Diego announced Oct. 17 the cancellation of its Nova Classics series Amadeus in Concert, due to an impasse in negotiations with the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) union and the resignation of its artistic director and conductor, Jung-Ho Pak, this week.

The opening concerts were scheduled for October 20, 21 and 22 in Qualcomm Hall-Sorrento Valley, the California Center of the Arts Escondido and at Sherwood Auditorium-La Jolla.

After a highly successful 2011-2012 season of sold-out concerts under the leadership of Pak, a visionary whose revolutionary artistic model for classical music has been embraced by a diverse San Diego demographic, the orchestra’s board of directors and administration are evaluating options for the future of the organization.

Orchestra Nova/ Courtesy/File

“Our guests have always been our highest priority,” said CEO Beverly Lambert. “Knowing that the AFM union recently called a strike against the Chicago Symphony just two hours before a concert, leaving ticket holders in a hall with no concert, we realized we were vulnerable to the same action. In an effort to protect our guests and minimize financial risk, we asked the union for a no-strike commitment in exchange for a no-lockout commitment from Nova — for the October concerts only.  The union declined that offer and we decided it was in the best interest of our ticket holders and guest artists to cancel the October concerts. The risk of a last-minute strike was of great concern to us.”

Orchestra Nova San Diego’s artistic director and conductor Jung-Ho Pak announced that he is stepping down after six years of musical and strategic leadership, effective immediately. Jung-Ho joined the orchestra in 2006 when it was known as the San Diego Chamber Orchestra. Since that time, he has transformed the orchestra into one of the most innovative and entertaining music experiences in San Diego, demonstrating a fresh and open approach to making classical music entertaining, emotional and relevant to today’s audiences and selling out nearly all of its performances last season.

“Our single purpose was to connect people with great music in an entertaining and surprising way,” said Jung-Ho Pak, artistic director and conductor of Orchestra Nova. “By bringing to life the unexpected relationships between beautiful classical music and things they enjoy in their everyday lives – like movies, technology, and food – we gave people a new way to inspire their senses. I want to thank the musicians for sharing some very special moments with me onstage. I believe that we have set a new standard for how a professional orchestra can connect with its audience. Our exceptional staff and board have worked so hard and with so much enthusiasm, that their sacrifice and dedication will last me a lifetime.”

Under his leadership, the Nova Experience became a buzzword throughout the county. Nova guests were immersed in theme-based activities, including food and exciting participatory entertainment, from the minute they entered into the lobby. These activities set the stage for the evening’s performance inside the hall which included creative programming, beautiful music, multimedia presentations and unique interaction with Pak.

“The entire Nova team has been passionate about what began as Jung-Ho’s vision but quickly became the Nova vision,” said Lambert. “We will miss him terribly, but we wish him only the best. He is a true visionary and we have been blessed by his leadership. I have no doubt that he will become one of the most influential leaders in the world of classical music and in music education – one of his passions – in the years to come.”

Leslie Mittanck, Orchestra Nova’s board chair, said, “With numerous well-regarded orchestras around the country in financial crisis, it is apparent that an innovative approach to delivering classical music to a new generation is necessary.  Likewise, a new model for its business management must be employed in order to achieve financial sustainability and success with audiences. Our sold-out season last year was confirmation that we, through Jung-Ho Pak’s creativity and vision, had hit upon the right approach. We created a product that people wanted.”

Mittanck continued, “It was becoming increasingly challenging for Orchestra Nova to fulfill our goals and strategies, due to a union contract that prevented us from choosing the musicians we hired.  The union contract required us to offer employment to the same musicians every year, but allowed them to opt out of as many performances as they desired – as often happened when a more lucrative job was available.  That one-way commitment was becoming increasingly problematic for us, and was the issue that resulted in the impasse.  We need flexibility to hire the union musicians we desire for each concert; the union wants a guarantee that we would offer contracts to the same musicians year after year. So far, we have an irreconcilable difference.  When we could not be certain that we would have musicians for the October concert series, we really had no option but the terrible one of cancellation.”

Mittanck added, “By the way, with regard to compensation, we respect the musicians and want to support them financially as much as possible within the parameters of prudent fiscal management of our organization. In fact, we offered them a pay increase of 15  percent  over the next three years (5 percent a year), an increase that is extremely rare in today’s fiscally depressed arts world. That offer was rejected.”

Related posts:

  1. Orchestra Nova names new CEO: It’s Beverly Lambert
  2. Violinist takes center stage at Orchestra Nova benefit Saturday night
  3. Romantic concert storm brewing with Brahms, Verdi, Adams, and a premiere
  4. Tickets on sale for Birch Aquarium’s spring/summer Green Flash Concert Series
  5. Next ‘Face the Music’ concert will engage ears, eyes … and noses

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Posted by Staff on Oct 17, 2012. Filed under A & E, Music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

6 Comments for “Orchestra Nova cancels October concerts, conductor Jung-Ho Pak resigns”

  1. Mikey

    Well, why don't you start by cutting the food and in-flight magazine costs and pay the musicians more?

  2. Violaguy

    Wow, talk about one-sided journalism. This article makes no attempt to present any viewpoints other than those of the management, so of course it makes the musicians look to be greedy and stubborn. Perhaps if you had interviewed some of the musicians or union president your readers would sympathize with their simple desire not to have to worry if they would be fired after each concert.

  3. For readers interested in the facts surrounding these recent unfortunate events please visit the musicians' website – novamusicians.org
    You can also "Like" us at our Facebook page: "Orchestra Nova Musicians" to stay current on these issues and other current events in the orchestral world.

  4. For readers interested in the facts surrounding these recent unfortunate events please visit the musicians' website – novamusicians.org

    • SteveKaro

      Your article does a good job of using the Musician's Union as a whipping boy, which seems to be quite popular these days. It smacks of convenient and lazy reporting. It is lopsided with only the viewpoint of management and not one comment from the musicians perspective.

      The cancelation of Orchestra Nova's concerts seems punitive because the musicians didn't completely capitulate to grandiose demands. It is my understanding that the musicians not only agreed to play but were enthusiastic about it. Using the Chicago Symphony as an excuse because of the remote possibility of a strike is just plain silly. If the musicians didn't show up you would have to refund tickets. By canceling the concerts what do you have to do? Refund tickets. Where's the liability?

      Pak wants godlike power to hire and fire at will for any reason. That is, as it should be, a dead issue from the get-go. It is doubtful if you could field an orchestra that way and even if you could, it would certainly not reach the calibre of what you already have. Who wants to listen to a "pickup" orchestra for every concert? Only by playing together does the ensemble improve. That is simple logic. Musicians have fought for years to stop such dictatorial policies. Contracts are negotiated not to the complete benefit of management but for the protection of the musicians as well. It is called compromise and is the standard for every contract with every orchestra.

      Freelance music is difficult at best with little stability. If someone is offered a lucrative job that pays substantially more, then the option should be there to take the higher paying job. That is the way the profession works in every major city. How can Pak expect loyalty to him yet provide no loyalty to the musicians. The best prescription for excellence is to provide a living wage and provide job security. Orchestra Nova does neither.

  5. Jim

    I found another article about this terrible turn of events that appears to be considerably more equitable. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/oct/29/jung-ho-pak-...

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