The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has fired its harpist, saying she played fortissimo during the pianissimo. The harpist, however, denies she's heavy handed.
Judith Beattie Ryan says it's all part of a five-year plan to kick her out of her chair.When she was told April 18 she had been fired for insubordination, Ryan, a 22-year veteran of the symphony, already had been informed that her contract would not be renewed because of incompetence, her lawyer said Tuesday.
Ryan was insubordinate because she played too loudly during quiet passages of Stephen Paulus' "Concerto for Orchestra" the previous weekend, said Thomas Bacchetti, the symphony's executive director.
Music Director Yoel Levi repeatedly admonished Ryan, Bacchetti said.
"That left Mr. Levi with no choice but to believe she willfully disregarded his directions," Bacchetti said.
Levi was wielding the baton during the April 11-13 performances. If he thought the harp too loud, he didn't do anything about it, said Ryan's attorney, Debra Schwartz.
"She claims she played it exactly as she was instructed," Schwartz said. "He made no attempt to get her to play it any differently. And she's got witnesses."
And that includes the audience, Schwartz said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's review of the April 11 performance praised the orchestra for playing the piece "with precision and panache."
It didn't mention the harp.
Ryan declined to talk with reporters about her firing, but her lawyer contends musicianship has nothing to do with the dispute.
In 1986, then-music director Robert Shaw tried to fire Ryan for musical incompetence, but an arbitrator from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra upheld her ability.