Open letter to the SLO Symphony director

May 19, 2015


Mr. Feingold,

Although you’ve now had the job of executive director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony for approximately a year, to my recollection you and I have never met. My late husband, Dr. Earle Blakeslee was the Symphony’s first conductor. I played in the second violin section.

Over the years I have enjoyed contributing my financial support to this now outstanding Symphony. Even though I am retired and frequently travel, I am still actively involved with the music community of San Luis Obispo.

I can tell you sir, that you may have won the battle in firing Michael Michael Nowak 2Nowak but you have lost the war. Numerous people with whom I’ve spoken have said unless Michael is reinstated they will no longer contribute. Musicians say they will no longer play and season ticket holders say they will not renew.

It is a Board of Director’s responsibility to oversee the finances and day to day management of an organization…not in this case to re-direct a conductor’s vision and repertoire.

I am writing to request that you reinstate Michael. If you are not comfortable working with him, then you are the one that should resign. You do not understand our very special community and with your intent on changing things apparently you never will.

This is a precious and special place. We like it that way.

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I don’t know the particulars of the disagreement between the SLO Symphony Board and Mr. Nowak so I will withhold judgment until I do. However, if the difference have to do with his choices of programming or other artistic factors, the Board really screwed up in not getting — and paying attention to — more public input before taking a stance.

They should have had solid public support before confronting him on these issues. Their preferences may be better but they would have to be substantially better and realistic given Mr. Nowak’s long history of quality performances. They have yet to prove anything to the general public and such proof is essential to public support. I think that they will end up with a much deteriorated organization in terms of financial support and public acceptance due to the way they handled this. They may have ended up in this situation anyway but they at least had a chance of support if they were open about what they wanted to do and why.



Thank you for you letter Madam.


I like the sound of “Central Coast Symphony”


If people stop giving donations, stop buying season tickets, stop supporting the symphony then it will die. It’s like holding a gun to your head and threatening to pull the trigger; stupid. The symphony has very little connection or impact on the broader community. It’s heavily subsidized entertainment for a small class of mostly very wealthy people.


I am one of those who enjoys the SLO symphony and I have a slightly below average income — far from wealthy. My lack of income (and time) limits my attendance to one or two shows a year but I am not the only one in this class of people. The “small class of mostly very wealthy people” to which you refer are the ones who mostly subsidize the symphony so that it can exist as a quality institution in a town which would not be able to afford a quality symphony if it was publicly funded or relied solely on selling seats.

Jorge Estrada

I once brought my mother to see the symphony and she was very impressed with his presentation, “he is youthful with class she said.” I’m no expert but I have seen other’s elsewhere and Mr. Nowak seems to be a better example of that discipline.


I know one of the people who play for the symphony and although it is not my cup of tea, she loves it, or should I say LOVED it. She is very disappointed in this change and this is a person who always see the cup 1/2 full.

I heard Novak on the radio and I heard him clearly state he did not step down. So who is telling the truth? Either way someone is not going to be happy in how this ends. It would be ashame to lose one of very few cultural enjoyments this area has to offer.


Just get PG&E to pull their funding that should put an end to the symphony


31 years is a long time to be director of SLO Symphony.

Moving forward with a peaceful change

just might be good for all.


“Moving Forward” is such an overdone expression, coco. The San Luis Obispo Symphony Board of Directors has FAILED to move the symphony along toward a better tomorrow. Rather, they have quite effectively created a snowball rolling downhill with such momentum, the symphony will no longer resemble what the community has come to know, love, and admire. Good for none!


Life is full of change,

often for the best.


Warren Buffett has been CEO of Berkshire Hathaway for 45 years and is 80 years old. Nobody thinks he’s been there too long, especially the investors.


Novak was on the radio so I think any pretense of employee secrets is out the window. Let’s hear it. What possible reason is there for this? Did he steal? Then call the cops. Otherwise, this symphony just made itself useless.

I think there are some people on the board who think they are bigger than this cowtown and some others who think the symphony is their personal toy because they’ve been on the board so long.


The employer still gets to stonewall under the guise of protecting the privacy of the employee even when the employee agrees to full disclosure. If the employee agrees, everything should be made public, but the symphony board is hiding behind this B.S. argument. With Mr. Nowak’s consent, please let us know why. Did he get a DUI? Molest a child? Embezzle funds?


Where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, when Irons “dismissed” the City Manager and City Attorney with no reason, even though the employees in question agreed to full disclosure.