The recent news that the has opted to pass by longtime Festival on the Green partner California Philharmonic Orchestra in favor of starting negotiations with Pasadena Symphony and Pops creates yet another controversy in Arcadia this year after , the , the, and an appearance by .
This one has the possibility of generating the most headlines and public comment after the Woodlands.
It’s interesting to note that in both cases the jurisdiction is outside the responsibility or control of any Arcadia officials–both are on County-controlled property.
But in the case of Cal Phil, not even the County has control of this issue. The decision was made by the mostly independent Arborertum Foundation board. The board apparently overruled an internal recommendation to stick with Cal Phil.
Why they did so is unclear. Some speculate that it was because some board members do not like Cal Phil conductor Victor Vener’s personality, either on stage, where he can be verbose, or offstage, where some say his strong personality can be a challenge. Others say the board members voted for Pasadena Symphony and Pops on the hope that current high-profile conductor Marvin Hamlisch will renew his contract for next year and beyond.
County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has taken calls on the matter, but there is little he can do about it, since it is the Foundation’s decision to make. Antonovich has done about all he can do, putting an item on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the County Supervisors to approve looking into the decision-making process to make sure there was nothing improper.
Regardless of that outcome, from a public relations perspective, it’s curious why the Arboretum Foundation decided to make a media announcement that they have decided to negotiate a deal with Pasadena rather than waiting until they actually have a deal. By doing so, they give all the leverage to Pasadena Symphony. Should those negotiations be unsuccessful, that will give Cal Phil all the leverage, and put the Foundation in an uncomfortable situation of going back to Cal Phil after publicly announcing they were not the Foundation’s first choice.
At this point one side or the other and their followers are going to feel aggrieved.
No matter which way you may want the decision to go at this point, let’s hope that, going forward, all parties practice more sensible and more respectful communication and decision-making.
Read more by Scott Hettrick at ArcadiasBest.com.