We will get Maestro Nowak back

May 23, 2015


Is the San Luis Obispo Symphony Board so out of touch with the musical world that they learned nothing from the situation in Minnesota over the last three years? The Minnesota Orchestra Board would not settle a contract with its musicians, proposing deep 40 percent cuts to their salaries. Their beloved conductor, Osmo Vanska, resigned in protest to the board.

The city and state rose up in protest. Some musicians had to leave the world-renowned orchestra and those who stayed renamed themselves and played in the orchestra, independent of the board, supported by donations from the city and state.

After 15 months, Osmo Vanska was back with his baton and the discredited board had to resign. That, I hope, can happen here, if the community supports the musicians and Michael Nowak. Let’s support our musicians and their Maestro Nowak…let’s attend and financially contribute to concerts by a (perhaps) re-named group: “SLO Musicians for Music.” Please send in ideas for names!

I don’t know anyone on the SLO Symphony Board, nor do I know Mr. Feingold. But I do know that they appear to be amateurs at their jobs. And in fact, they will not tell the community the truth about Michael Nowak’s termination. Their “vision” is filled with dollar signs, not musical notes.

India D’Avignon, president of the SLO Symphony Board stated in an email to the musicians that she is “very,very sorry” for the way the orchestra found out about Michael Nowak. I think the SLO Symphony Board and Mr. Feingold will eventually be feeling “very, very sorry” for themselves.

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It certainly seems like the current Board doesn’t like having to play second fiddle to Maestro Nowak? The number one rule is to earn the respect of the talent and Nowak appears to have don’t that. All non-profits are required to have a Board. The Board does not create the talent nor can it micro-manage their performance, I think that’s the Maestro’s job. I like the idea of a different symphony, maybe the Sunny Acres Symphony? SLO Snobs do not represent the happy people they serve.

Dear Musicians of the San Luis Obispo Symphony,

If you decide to start a new orchestra with Michael Nowak as your conductor, I will come to your performances. If you are able to make peace with the current board, and they bring Michael back, I will come to your performances. I appreciate your talent and dedication to the music that you bring into my life. You have filled my heart with much joy over the years. Thank you so very much.

I predict the money will dry up very soon and there will be not much left over for the board to operate. I always enjoyed Nowak at the symphony and, because of the current

turmoil, I don’t see anyone wishing to take his place. Feingold will probably leave when

there’s no salary for him. The gravediggers are standing by with their shovels.

Bright new faces are needed and all will be healed!!

With the recent vote of no confidence by the musicians of the SLO Symphony Board, I suspect the BOD will be purged and Nowak will be welcomed back with no need to create a brand new organization.

Unless someone can post the bylaws and prove me wrong, I don’t think there is any mechanism for this. If they all resign, then the attorney general has to appoint people.

In the old days, the change/improve “mechanism” was that errant people had shame, remorse, and contrition and resigned, like Nixon. With the god-heads that run and populate this county (not that Lictig lives here), remorse and contrition are unknown concepts. Nobody resigns quietly in penance for goofing an organization, not Lisa Solomon, Bruce Gibson, SLO chief, Adams, Ferrara, the list goes way, way on. It will take people with (figuratively speaking) pitchforks and speeches and talk of tar and feathers, by the hundreds, to get these tin-horn dictators to acknowledge failure or mismanagement, and to leave.

Pandayho raises a good point- typically in non-profit organizations, the board of directors appoints/elects its members. If that is the case with the symphony, then the board is not accountable to anyone else. Therefore, there probably is no superior appointing authority to undertake such a “purge” of the board.

Unless someone within the existing symphony board decides to challenge the firing internally and fight to reinstate Nowak, then Nowak is probably gone for good. However, that approach would require people with a lot of guts to undertake such a fight. Typically, the people who join these non-profit boards do not do so in order to participate in messy public personality brawls.

A different approach would be for the community at large to choke off its financial support of the symphony to such an extent that the board would be forced with the uncomfortable choice of admitting its error and offering to reinstate Nowak or allowing the symphony to shrink to relative insignificance as a minor civic community band.

So, there’s not much of a bright future to hope for here. If Nowak is to return, it’s time for someone on the board, or true leaders in the community at large, to roll up their sleeves and get ready to rumble.


This is a private non-profit organization. If the board resigns, then the non-profit ceases to exist unless new board members are found. I think you are confusing a public board with a private board. I don’t think a non-profit can make the Attorney General’s office appoint members, even if it’s in their by-laws. It just means that the by-laws were incorrect.