Conductor addresses critics

Symphony conductor who worked with the Sacramento Philharmonic and the Sacramento Chamber Orchestra, and who plans to lead the California Bach Festival

It is generally recognized in an evolved and cultured society that creativity is a sacred gift and that the freedom to exercise it is an inalienable right of an individual. Such is also the claim of America, which has historically opened its arms to even the most radical of creative spirits.

Yet strangely enough, some individuals in Sacramento have set themselves up as the arbiters of these inalienable rights, determining the bounds of artistic expression. To illustrate, read journalist Jeff Hudson’s recent article on my work as a symphony conductor here in Sacramento (“Bach to the Future,” SN&R, June 7).

Mr. Hudson’s article is the last in a string of Hac…ko-bashing reportage sponsored by the local art detractors. Historical facts, incidents, financial reports, artistic reviews, administrative and organizational activities—as well as the context, psychological and spiritual values, implications, and the obvious motives—all are duly digested, redefined and reinterpreted.

In short, the self-styled “Arbitrating Elite” has not only redefined what great art is, who is going to do it and how—they have rewritten history! I personally cannot recognize my own biography, recent or past.

As a European symphony conductor who grew up steeped in the great musical tradition and who developed his career under such luminary maestros as Blomstedt, Dorati and Bernstein, I cannot understand where these people’s sense of aesthetics or ethics comes from. It all sounds like Ebonics.

My last and lasting recollection of such sweeping self-assigned powers to redefine the world as we know it and grind down anyone opposed to it dates back to my days under Communism. But then, I left Communism and came to America.

Considering the difficult history that Sacramento has had with the arts, it would behoove the “enlightened” to step aside, allow unhampered artistic expression and lend their support to those of us who know the arts. More than anything, our community must understand that the arts in general, and a symphony orchestra in particular, cannot be possessed in the same sense that one possesses a car, a house or a business. Art belongs to no one individual or group—it belongs to all. It is a sacred gift given in trusteeship to the community for everyone’s ennoblement and enjoyment.

Certainly, if symphonic music is to flourish, those of us working in the aftermath of the collapsed symphony need all the financial and moral support, all the nobility of character, and all the good will that a community can muster, so we can take Sacramento to a place of artistic prestige in this new millennium. I personally remain committed to this goal and I invite all to do likewise.