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January, 2004 - Nr. 1


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We want Fischer-Dieskau, we want …

by Herwig Wandschneider

Herwig Wandschneider

Happy New Year!! K-W is a wonderful place to live, and one thing that contributes enormously to this sentiment is the level of culture that gives the combined cities world-class sophistication. Clearly, Martin Fischer-Dieskau, who comes from one of the most cultural cities in the world, thought the K-W Symphony Orchestra good enough to be taken on a European Tour. And he should know.

Is it possible that K-W Symphony Directors did not want to give K-W a worldwide reputation for excellence? And not to put K-W on the cultural map of the world? Focus "merely" on the needs of this community? And on the budget?

Martin Fischer-Dieskau as we got to know himSomething is definitely wrong here. The good international reputation of the orchestra can do nothing but improve attendance and sponsorship. Communication problems? Perhaps. Depends on who was not listening. From the first day of his arrival here, Fischer-Dieskau spoke of his ambition to take the orchestra on a European tour. And no wonder. Remember when he was first introduced as the successful candidate-conductor? The enthusiasm of the orchestra and the audience was an emotional event not to be forgotten.

Frankly, it does not really matter, what went wrong. There was a sizzle of excitement in the audience every time Fischer-Dieskau stepped on the podium and swung his baton. Fischer-Dieskau and the orchestra were one unit. Each was full of admiration of the other. There was a unique bond, a rare unequalled level of cooperation and enthusiasm you could feel and hear. There was belief in the music, in the cause. Motivation. And the public was drawn in as never before.

Short of a monumental crime, there is little one could imagine as the reason for firing an accomplished and charismatic conductor during the negotiation phase of extending an existing contract about to expire. Other than a personality conflict, perhaps, beyond reasonable comprehension. But then, 15 out of 17 members of the Board appeared to have approved of the firing. 15 of 17 upstanding volunteer-members of the community agreed to let him go. Are they insane, all of them? Hardly. But could they be sheep following the opinions of a couple of tigers? That seems more likely. Look at RIM Park. Waterloo was represented by people, who did not have the ability to question the data provided to them, nor the expertise to study the data in the short time allowed for review. They just voted in accordance with the unstudied data and the layman’s opinion provided to them. And most were not re-elected. 

It seems to be happening all over North America. In all sorts of boardrooms. The result is bankruptcy, firing of the entire board or not getting re-elected. Why should the result be different here? If the contract between the parties provides for a deafening silence regarding the reasons of this atrocious event, then so be it. Hang the board, not the conductor, for he brought a rare pleasure to the orchestra and audience not seen for some time. And let a new board decide where to go from here.

The outcry from subscribers was deafening as reflected by the letters written to The Record. Robert Lefcourt, Psychology Professor at the University of Waterloo, recently put it this way in The Record’s Insight section (page A11, The Record Dec 31, 2003) "One would have to guess that Fischer-Dieskau has aroused resentment and possibly jealousy for his youthful vigour, his charisma and his excellence." What a horrible way to put K-W culturally (or non-culturally) on the map.


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