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February, 2004 - Nr. 2


The Editor
Sweet Surrender
Herz und Rose
Vienna Connection
Zurich Connection
Toronto Connection
Dear Mom
Consulate's New Address
Neue Konsulatsadresse
KW and Beyond
Symphonic Delights
Fischer-Dieskau Saga
Tony Bergmeier
Business Association Meeting
Sauter's Inn
Kasseler Food
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Health Newsletter
At the Berlinale
Movies made in Berlin
Movie "Das Parfum"
"Wunderkind" Phenomenon
Cars fight AIDS
Canada Day Poster
High-Tech Rail Running
Made in Germany vs. EU
Mars Exploration
Engineers Award Nominations
German/US Ties
Munich After All


by Herwig Wandschneider

Herwig Wandschneider

KWS - Fischer-Dieskau Saga continues

Kitchener-Waterloo residents and particularly K-W Symphony buffs are thoroughly familiar with the daily battles between members of the K-W Symphony Orchestra Association Inc, its Executive Director and the Board of Directors. The local media continue to follow the events with great interest. Most recently the Board has finally entered the fray directly by expressing some of its thoughts on the subject publicly. (The Record January 29, 2004 "The Symphony Board Speaks Out"). Not that it sheds much light on the subject.

The Board speaks about a strategic plan, an open contract and that the symphony was not engaged to play at the opening of the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, Germany. And it seems that Maestro Fischer-Dieskau had some objections about the strategic plan – which as of September 2003 did not include a German Tour of the Orchestra. The strategic plan proposed to

  • enhance the artistic capacity of the orchestra
  • continue to build on outreach initiatives
  • increase organizational capacity
  • continue to improve the financial position.

Organizational issues were in full swing in November. The current management structure had been in place for some time, but changes were in process on other fronts. Question is, are changes necessary? Why fix something that is not broken. And why terminate a contract prematurely – open or not – when the stakeholders (members), the audience, and the community at large were proud of their orchestra and its principal conductor? Are these not valid points:

  • High quality orchestra
  • Conductor with International Reputation, carefully selected
  • Good programme
  • Enthusiastic sponsors
  • Dedicated Volunteer work
  • Enthusiastic community

It appears that someone is going at the existing structure with a hatchet to change the organization without regard to the product, the culture and the psychological impact on all participants. And enforce change for changes-sake. To accomplish what:

  • Terminate a contract of a conductor in tune with the orchestra
  • Diminish the input and role of the principal conductor
  • Aggravate happy subscribers (covers about 45% of the KWS budget)
  • Aggravate donors at all levels
  • Confine what is a potential world-recognized orchestra in a regional straight jacket
  • Dissolve an enthusiastic independently organized and managed volunteer force (which, for example, organized the well-attended fund-raising Viennese Ball at Bingemans), and create a new KWS-managed volunteer force (reporting directly to the Executive Director via a "Volunteer Manager") with all major responsibilities handed to KWS management and leaving all the secondary tasks to the volunteers. This change was somehow approved by the Volunteers. Why is another story. Likely the same concept of the tiger and the sheep that led to the dismissal of Fischer-Dieskau.

Considering that some 75% of the budget is raised through combined subscriber-sales and fund-raising, one would think that these are the people you need to work with and to keep happy and motivated. Martin Fischer-Dieskau added much to the motivation. Without him and with all the management changes in place, will subscriber-sales hold and will volunteers continue to raise the required funds under the new volunteer management structure?

Much damage has been done by the current management to the position of the principal conductor, to the musicians, shareholders, volunteers and sponsors, not to forget the community, by removing someone who injected substantial motivation into the KWS supporters and by changing the volunteer management structure. The Board has not adequately reacted to recognize their misguided approach and has made matters more complicated by signing up another principal conductor, pursuing their strategic plan like a freight train out of control.

Management that is unresponsive to the people to whom they report – the stakeholders – is usually replaced. If for some bureaucratic reason they are not, one does not wish to visualize the consequences.


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