Flute blames ‘demeaning’ maestro for unfair dismissal

Ronna Ayscue is suing the Bay-Atlantic Symphony after losing the principal flute seat she held for almost 30 years.

Her beef is with conductor Jed Gaylin. She describes him as a ‘controlling, bullying, and manipulative individual who created an atmosphere within the orchestra of hostility and fear.’

‘On numerous occasions over the past years, up to and including the time on or aboutPlaintiff’s termination, Jed Gaylin would demean and ridicule Plaintiff’s musical  performances in both rehearsals and in live shows,’ her court submission states. ‘Specifically, Jed Gaylin has stated to Plaintiff and others that Plaintiff ‘plays like she is in the second grade.’’

No comment from Gaylin. Full story here.

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  • I have worked with Jed Gaylin in 2009 in far-west China, during intense and difficult recording sessions which I produced. Since then, I have seen him conduct in Russia and the United States, and he always treated the orchestra with utmost respect. In fact, he is probably one of the nicest people I have met over the 16 years that I work with classical artists, and someone who truly lives for music and art.

    It would nice, for a change, not to sensationalise “news” on the expense of an individual, Mr. Lebrecht.

    • Posting this ‘news’ without verifying the truth of the matter is unfair to the plaintiff. All it does is perpetuate the claim, which could be false and personally driven, and harm the conductor even more. If the claim is true, let the facts speak for themselves. As he is a conductor, other musicians will either be able to verify this claim to be true or deny it. No need to give this extra flair on this site.

  • I don’t know how they work over there, but here a conductor can’t just fire a musician. There is a committee of several orchestra musicians to whom the conductor can suggest removal of that musician. The case is evaluated, and the committee decides whether the musician is fired or not. Not the conductor.

    Also: conductors are not dictators. If a conductor wants to replace a musician, there is most certainly a good reason for it. Very often there is a big difference between how good some musicians play, and how good they actually play…

    • This is a tiny pick-up orchestra, I doubt the musicians have nearly as much formalized protection as a full-time ensemble. And since all of this is speculation anyways, might as well concur with your second statement- If she has been in such a small ensemble for that length of time (since its founding or close to it), it is entirely possible that she does play “like she is in the second grade.”

  • While conductors “over here” cannot fire players, they can make their lives so miserable that the player decides that resigning is the better deal. Apparently this is what happened in the case of the Cleveland Orchestra’s veteran principal clarinetist Franklin Cohen.

    • Keep in mind that Frank Cohen played with FWM for about 14 years, so it’s not as though FWM just came in and tried to push him out. Seems more likely that he concluded that at nearly 70, the great man’s best days were behind him and encouraged him – how aggressively is the big question – to retire; it’s the rare person who takes that well.

  • Keep in mind that this is about a five-programs-a-year orchestra; calling it even part-time would be generous. Though they seem to have an impressive list of outreach programs. Not sure what that would suggest about any master agreement; it looks like a freelance gig where job security might not be quite what it is in a full-time orchestra. That said, I assume that there would have to be some credible legal basis for a lawyer to bother taking the case, though I don’t think she can claim a lot in terms of financial damages; more emotional and possibly damage to reputation.

    • “I assume that there would have to be some credible legal basis for a lawyer to bother taking the case”

      I think you underestimate how easy (and financially rewarding) it can be for a lawyer to pursue a completely groundless suit. Having worked under this conductor with two different orchestras (including this one) and observed him in rehearsal and performance with two others, I think he probably has more cause to sue for defamation of character than she has for being bullied or terminated without cause.

  • I have known Jed Gaylin for over 25 years. We have worked together many times, and with a variety of orchestras and ensembles, including the Bay-Atlantic Symphony and, recently, my own group, the Eastman BroadBand Ensemble, at the Eastman School of Music. Maestro Gaylin is a consummate professional, and one of the most gracious, fair, respectful, and decent individuals one can encounter.

  • Ronna would not make up this stuff. It is what it is – let the Court decide, not this pettiness here.

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