A monthlong brouhaha over a proposed visit by the New York Philharmonic to the Grand Teton Music Festival has apparently been laid to rest.
In a vote taken last weekend, at the conclusion of this year's festival, the board reached what has been described as a compromise with dissenting musicians, some of whom have been associated with the festival for close to two decades.
At issue was a proposed two-week residency by the Philharmonic next summer at a cost of $610,000, more than the festival's annual budget and reportedly more than the cost of a two-week tour visit. In an open letter earlier this month 29 of the festival's musicians questioned the appropriateness of the move. Privately fears were expressed that the residency might be a first step toward eventual takeover of the festival, and supplanting of the festival orchestra, by the Philharmonic.
"Absolutely not," maintained Sam Lightner, board president at the time. "We were never going to have another orchestra come in and take over from ours." While no contract has been signed, the plan now, according to Lightner, is to invite the Philharmonic for a two-week visit before the opening of the festival proper, "simply as our guests, as a service to the community and a fund-raiser for the festival." In addition, the board agreed to consult on a regular basis with a committee representing the musicians.
"I think they realized they were in error in not consulting with the musicians in the first place," commented one festival insider, who characterized the musicians' reaction to the compromise as one of "cautious optimism." The festival orchestra is made up of musicians from many of this country's major orchestras, who elect to spend several weeks each summer in the Tetons, mainly for room and board.
"I think what came out of it was a renewed sense of how much this festival owes to the participating artists, who through their contribution of their services over the years have been among the largest contributors," said longtime festival business manager Margot Walk.
That same weekend Walk announced her resignation, an act she denied had anything to do with the furor over the Philharmonic. "I had already resolved this season would be my last," she said.
Until their divorce four years ago, Walk was married to festival music director Ling Tung.