Controversy Flares Over End of Youngstown Symphony Music Director's Tenure

Classic Arts News   Controversy Flares Over End of Youngstown Symphony Music Director's Tenure
The contract of Youngstown Symphony Orchestra music director Isaiah Jackson will not be renewed, but no details about the decision are forthcoming from the orchestra board, the Youngstown, Ohio, Vindicator reports.

The Symphony Society, which manages the ensemble, implied in a statement released earlier this month that the decision to leave was Jackson's. Jackson, however, told the Vindicator that he was shocked by the announcement, that he would have liked to renew his contract, and that he was never given an explanation.

The orchestra board, learning of Jackson's reaction, issued another statement that read, "We had hoped to present this as Isaiah Jackson's decision, but from the comments you have given us it is obvious he is making a different choice. We do not believe it is appropriate for us to comment further."

Jackson, who has been with the orchestra since 1995 and whose current contract expires at the end of June, is credited with improving the orchestra's performance and its visibility.

Board member Marilyn Wagmiller said," I think Isaiah brought wonderful talents to the symphony.... I think he's fulfilled his goals here, and I think his needs and our needs changed." She declined to say what those needs were.

Some ticket-holders and donors are unhappy with the decision and the secrecy surrounding it. According to the paper, Youngstown officials are considering withholding a $40,000-$50,000 contribution because of the controversy.

Others are worried that the way the situation was handled might have a negative impact on recruiting someone to fill the position.

The orchestra will put together a search committee to find a replacement for Jackson, and finalists will be invited to conduct concerts in the 2006-07 season.

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