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Saturday, July 8, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Musicians, Schwarz clarify their positions

Seattle Times music critic

Tensions at the Seattle Symphony have brought two statements from the orchestra musicians and music director Gerard Schwarz, in response to published accounts of musicians' discontent about Schwarz's recent contract renewal (through 2011).

The musicians took an in-house survey last month to communicate with the orchestra's board of directors their views about the contract extension and their own input into artistic decision-making. The survey has not been released to the public, but it has been widely described as critical of Schwarz's leadership.

This week, the musicians issued the following statement:

"The Seattle Symphony and Opera Players' Organization is working with the Symphony management to resolve various issues relating to the survey recently administered by the musicians' Artistic Advisory Committee.

"At no point was the survey intended for public consumption. The musicians consider the results of the survey to be an internal matter.

"The members of the musicians' Artistic Advisory Committee are looking forward to resuming their efforts to improve communication between the musicians and the Symphony board of directors."

Players' representative and violist Tim Hale said the musicians were presently discussing ways to better communications with the board.

The musicians' statement should ease concerns on the board, which had initiated legal proceedings to stop public release of a survey they deemed flawed and potentially damaging to the orchestra.

Meanwhile, Schwarz yesterday released a statement of his own about the fracas:

"For me, it is always about the work, the music. If anyone wants to misconstrue that, that is something I cannot control. People may try to prevent me from doing my job. I cannot prevent that. All I can do is do what is right for the music. My goals are never frivolous; they are always in sync with what is best for the music and its future. If conflict arises, I can only proceed, head held high, and move beyond it. It may get me down, but I can never let it get in my way."

Schwarz, now conducting at the Interlochen Music Festival in Michigan, said he was "not a politician or, for that matter, a fundraiser. I've stayed out of it [the survey controversy]. I do my best to make music and will continue to do so."

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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