Principal oboe: Why I quit the LA Phil

Message from Ramon Ortega:

Dear everyone,
After hearing so many wrong comments about why I have resigned on my position with the LA Phil, I would like to write that, on my case, there is not only one reason why I have decided this way. Anyone who lives such an experience will understand that.

I would love to thank the LA Phil for a marvelous time these past months. It is an experience I will never forget.

I am specially grateful to my collegues on the wind section, maestro Dudamel and all LA Phil staff who have just supported and made me have a great time in LA!

I am very sad that it lasted so short, but that is life. I ask for respect on my personal motives.

I wish the LA Phil the brightest future and all the best on their 100 anniversary season.
They are a fantastic orchestra and I will truly miss them.


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    • I know all the trolls are here for dirt and gossip, and in the meantime they forget how to READ: <> Mr. Ortega doesn’t owe anyone anything more than this. Now all y’all can STFU and respect someone’s right to privacy.

      • Oops my quotation marks erased the text, which said that Mr. Ortega did in fact cite ‘personal motives’ in his text. Of course it’s not enough for the gossipers…

  • Lol what was the reason he quit? What a total pile of BS. Wasn’t it just some months ago when the Slipped Disc headline about Ortega was “Why I’m moving to LA” or something along those lines?

    Did he not pass his probation or what?

    • He only worked with the orchestra for about six weeks or so, so there was still a long time before any talk of passing or not passing “probation”.

  • Nasty comment of the day: If he were an American player leaving a Viennese orchestra, there would be 50 comments below how those horrible people again got rid of someone ‘who was not one of them’.

    Anyway, on a nicer note: Mr Ortega, best of luck and joy in your future career!

  • Maybe when he actually experienced the traffic in LA and saw the small, 2 bedroom rancher he could afford in Pasadena, he bailed. I certainly respect those personal motives.

    • “He was born to be a hobo
      Because he played the oboe,
      And the oboe (it is widely understood)
      Is an ill wind, which no one blows good”

      –Danny Kaye

    • That is awfully generous of you, but in reality the money earned by LA Phil’s star principals would have actually enabled him to afford very decent living arrangements, even at LA prices.

  • Very good statement by Mr. Ortega. It certainly is a personal decision, he is a consummate European gentleman and deserves his privacy.

    It’s apparent now that this was entirely his decision. You have to wonder if the intense oboe dramas going in the US during his brief tenure with LA swayed him.

    Liang Wang in NY, the Needleman/Carney debacle in Baltimore (Jonathan Carney, the accused, served as Concertmaster with a top orch. in Mr. Ortega’s homeland of Spain, and is highly regarded there). These are decidely un-European situations and perhaps off-setting to a young man of Mr. Ortega’s gentle and refined demeanor.

    • The U.S. is a big country; Baltimore and New York are as far from LA as Moscow is from Munich (probably farther). Sometimes culturally, too. And you’ve picked two oboe-related situations out of many. Also, surely you’re not suggesting such things don’t happen in Europe? Wasn’t there recently a major orchestra previously led by Mr. Ortega’s BRSO music director that fired his replacement over similar behavior?

    • Why would he be put off by that? If anything it would be a positive to work in an environment where abuse/harassment isn’t tolerated.

    • You are. He indicated quite clearly what were NOT the true reasons, and by the process of elimination intelligent readers should be able to figure out with reasonable certainty what the real reasons were.

  • Maybe he left because he realized that classical music is not really important in Los Angeles. The culture is so dominated by the entertainment business in Los Angeles that the only things that matter there are the weekly movie box–office grosses, the dresses worn by stars in the multitude of awards shows, and the flashy gas-guzzling sports cars driven by celebrities. Someone could drop a bomb on Disney Hall and wipe out the entire orchestra and it might make page 5 of the Los Angeles Times.

    • I love Munich, Prague, Vienna, etc.., but if my experience from three years in Prague is any indication, I’m not sure those cities’ orchestras and opera companies are any more central to the everyday lives of their residents than the LAPO is.

    • Classical music is not really important in Los Angeles? You do realize the LA Philharmonic is, from a financial standpoint, the most successful big orchestra in the U.S. right now?

      • Money talks and bullshit walks? There would be more sensitive assertions to prove your point. All that horrible superhero movies also make even more money in LA than the Phil. Michael B. already said about it in his original comment.

    • This is not true; the L.A. Phil is one of the best-supported orchestras in the nation, an accomplishment their creative organization has worked hard to achieve. Not sure why anyone would want to deny that.

    • Such nonsense. There’s not a greater cultural institution beloved by the city than LA Phil. And no, LA isn’t dominated by the entertainment business. Stop watching TMZ.

  • Seriously, that orchestra has a hell of a time holding on to people.

    There’s been problems maintaining players (with actual departures and rumours) in the violas, flutes (oy!), oboe, trombone, etc.

    You know, LA can be a fabulous place to live, but many people find it fatuous, ridiculously expensive and we haven’t even discussed the traffic. You almost lose the will to live.

    You’d think—great hall, fine conductor, constant sunshine—who would not want to live and play there? So, something’s wrong.

    • That may be in part because the orchestra’s stellar reputation attracts star players, and star players sometimes behave like stars.

    • Yeah, if you wanna live at the beach and work downtown traffic will destroy you. However, there are several wonderful areas to live in that are not far from Disney Hall at all…… All Metro areas have traffic issues, FYI.

  • The LA Phil is great for a one-night stand, a three month affair, not to get married to.

    And oh, did someone also mention the traffic? The Traffic.

    With modern technology, you can telecommute sitting in minimum 4 hours of traffic each day for the rest of your life living in LA. You cannot telecommute in music. How do you practice, teach, rehearse in your car?

  • It is interesting that his statement “After hearing so many wrong comments about why I have resigned on my position…” has resulted in even further wild speculation about why he resigned his position.

  • I think their programming would put me off ie 3 nights on the trot of the same programme, too many weird commissions, and themed glitzy nights. Not for me. I’m surprised that Dudamel has kept going but at least he keeps in touch with europe. Ramon is the best oboist in the world and I hope he focuses more now on solo and chamber work and perhaps conducting. He’s too good to be sitting in an orchestra full time.

  • A European oboist in an American Orchestra. That worked out well! Doesn’t matter how good of a player he is. Totally different sound and approach.

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