Citing Financial Mismanagement, Sacramento Symphony Director Resigns

Classic Arts News   Citing Financial Mismanagement, Sacramento Symphony Director Resigns
Rachel Lewis, head of California's Sacramento Symphony and its parent organization, the Metropolitan Music Center, quit her post Friday, October 1, citing financial mismanagement by the organization, the Sacramento Bee reports.

The resignation comes less than a week after a group of payroll checks issued by the orchestra were returned for insufficient funds.

In a letter sent by Lewis' attorney to the MMC, and obtained by the Bee, Lewis said she attempted to cancel the orchestra's season opening concert Saturday, September 25, because she did not think the company could pay musicians.

Lewis said that she never signed the 73 payroll checks‹which totaled more than $36,000‹although the checks carried her signature. Lewis expressed her "utmost disapproval of MMC's business ethics and practices," the letter read.

Cynthia Macdonald, chair of the organization's board of directors, told the Bee that she was "stunned and appalled" by the letter, and that Lewis's resignation was an unexpected blow to the organization. Macdonald said the MMC denies all of Lewis' allegations.

The Sacramento Symphony was founded by Zvonimir Hacko, the conductor who also founded the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra and served as its music director until 1999.

The Sacramento Symphony has been under scrutiny for months, its business practices questioned in a series of articles by the Bee. In a September 17 story, the paper raised doubts about the group's fundraising claims, and reported that Lewis had exaggerated her background and experience. In another story, dated September 30, the Bee reported that the orchestra had a loss of $141,000 at the close of its 2003-04 season.

Also in September, attorney Glenn Peterson filed suit against the Metropolitan Music Center and the Sacramento Symphony on behalf of the Sacramento Philharmonic alleging unfair competition and unfair business practices. Peterson is also representing Lewis.

The symphony's next concert is set for October 30, but in the meantime, the musicians union‹Local 12 of the American Federation of Musicians‹has asked members to withdraw their services from the Sacramento Symphony and any other organization affiliated with the MMC, the Bee reports.

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