Gordon Johnson, who has been with the ensemble for eight years, resigned when it became apparent that the orchestra could not pay his salary and travel expenses. Johnson lives in Montana, where he directs the Great Falls Symphony.
By all accounts, the parting is an amicable one. Guillaume Grenier-Marmet, the orchestra's co-executive director, told the Tribune, "[Johnson] preferred to resign instead of putting the orchestra in jeopardy."
"They can't afford to pay for anything," Johnson said. "I'm owed money for [the season's final concert], and that's fine. . . Some of the orchestra just played without payment. I had donated my fee for the February concert. I'm still owed money for April, and for expenses and such. And I am quite certain that I will be paid that money."
The orchestra is in bad financial shape, with a $20,000 deficit from 2004-05 and no money to pay its performers on time in December 2004 and April 2005. Jacqueline Toney, the orchestra's executive director, resigned in April.
The board is currently reorganizing itself and adding new members.
Guest conductors will lead the orchestra for its 2005-06 season. Cal Stewart Kellogg, principal conductor of Arizona Opera, will conduct the first concert of the season on October 22.