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January, 2004 - Nr. 1

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Letter from the Editor

GS Hospitality Connections

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister  

Dear Reader

Since you heard from me in the pre-Christmas issue not all that much happened in our community that deserves comment, except if you live in Kitchener-Waterloo and/or are a music lover. The local paper, the Record, recently carried lengthy reports about something that holds more than the promise of a storm in a water glass. This one has the makings of a full-fledged hurricane where a few folks might and, to tell the truth, should walk the plank.

Martin Fischer-Dieskau in conversation with Echo Germanica's Sybille Forster-RentmeisterI am discussing the early and seemingly unjust dismissal of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony principal conductor Martin Fisher-Dieskau by the current board of directors, two of which have already resigned in protest, and their names are known. We do not yet have the names of all those that dug in their heals at repeated opportunities to recant this unpopular decision, but hope to find out soon.

Anyone who followed the brewing trouble over the last month must have been deeply disturbed by the lack of courage, vision and manner towards Mr. Fischer-Dieskau and the orchestra displayed by the symphony board.

I recall going to Kitchener to meet Martin Fisher-Dieskau when he first was announced as principal conductor and the first season with him was opened. The first concert was unforgettable. Even after such a short time with the orchestra it was clear that a fusion had taken place, which energized the musicians, the audience and even the building itself. The excitement and free flowing power of the moment held on with every concert that was presented under the maestro’s baton. Sponsors must have been happy indeed to support such outstanding artistry. (Read that article again on the net in the April issue of the year 2002)

Martin Fischer-Dieskau as he introduces a musical composition of a local composer - March 2002

I also recall the maestro’s astonishment about the fact that here in Canada it is expected of a conductor to make public speeches for the purpose of raising money. Well, may be not directly raising the money, but certainly to create the necessary confidence, which in the end spells money. That is not the norm everywhere in the world, and certainly not in Germany, or at least it was not so until recently, if at all. Never the less, he rose to all those new challenges gracefully. And if he had a fault it was the fact that he had tremendous confidence in the ability of the orchestra, which is the reason why he wanted to take it to Europe and especially Berlin. Martin Fischer-Dieskau: We are going to Berlin... - October 3, 2003 at the Roy Thomson Hall, TorontoOn October 3rd we spoke to him in Roy Thomson Hall at the advent of the German National Holiday and the opening of the 2nd annual German Festival. Even then he spoke of taking the KWS to Berlin for the opening of Canada House, the new Canadian Embassy in Berlin. Being involved in a project to enhance that event I know that there are moneys to be had from the Canadian Government for artistic venues and decisions are being made as we speak about who participates. It is also clear that anyone in the music industry would understand that such a prestigious undertaking is worth making a few sacrifices for. The publicity alone radiated by such a tour, and probable recording revenues far out-create any shortages of revenue. This kind of cross-border, cross-cultural exchange is the stuff we forge and strengthen alliances with these days, rather than with the marriages between royal houses.

Echo Germanica wants to make it clear that we heard from our community and way beyond, and we know that the disenchantment with the board of directors of the KWS is very strong. We expect action to be taken to reflect this sentiment. The support of a huge segment of the local population would be a very big loss to the symphony. Perhaps it is time for a new board, a new beginning, with a conductor that has already proven himself, namely Martin Fischer-Dieskau. Perhaps he is gracious enough to except an apology.

We also hope that decisive action and not long legal wrangling will bring about a speedy resolution to this problem. Or else we all loose!

Let us look forward to an exciting New Year, which we will have to create every day anew. That makes our outlook important. Sour minds don’t create pleasant futures. To maintain perfect PH values in our outlook we need the arts to balance the books. And young active people, who still have the ability to be optimistic!

Happy New Year!

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister


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