It’s a boy: Henry Fogel steers a music director search

It’s a boy: Henry Fogel steers a music director search


norman lebrecht

May 14, 2019

Symphony NH, one of three orchestras in New Hampshire, has named Roger Kalia as its next music director.



The search committee was steered by ex-Chicago boss Henry Fogel.

Out of nine candidates, just one was a woman.

That’s what happens when old-timers lead the process.


  • R. Brite says:

    Preparing for “Talent, not gender, should be the only criterion” comments in 3, 2, ….

    • James E Forrest says:

      Indeed so, and to suggest that Mr. Fogel would be influenced in the selection process by ethnicity, gender or affectional preference is simply an ignorant comment. Also . . . it is the Symphony Board which makes the selection in these situations.

    • Philip says:

      OK, I’ll oblige. Talent, not gender, should be the only criterion. I find it nothing less than creepy that the headline of an announcement of a new appointment focuses on the gender of the candidate.

      • Jack says:

        It’s because there was a time in the past that women were passed over IN SPITE OF their talent. Yes, talent should be the sole criterion. Whether it has been trumped in the past by gender is certainly likely. That’s why this is an issue today.

  • Alan says:

    Your snipe at ‘old timers’ is as offensive as what you are criticizing.

    Affirmative action does not lead to gender equality. Simply a belief that certain people het jobs because of their race or gender and for no other reason.

  • John Marks says:


    I am disappointed in SD’s coverage of this. Roger is a person of color with a degree from a state university. A real “old-timer” orchestra executive perhaps would have disqualified him based on either (or both of) those factors.

    I organized and presented the chamber-music performing-arts series at Thomas More College for 26 years, presenting artists of the caliber of Emily Mitchell, Peter Sykes, Nathaniel Rosen, Dennis Costa (a student of Angel Romero’s), and Arturo Delmoni. As far as I could tell, NOBODY from Boston travels North to New Hampshire for culture.

    From my perspective, I highly doubt that Anna Rakitina would have considered for a nanosecond a conducting job in New Hampshire (or Rhode Island, for that matter). My educated guess is that a highly qualified female conductor might not apply for the New Hampshire job from fear she might get it; that might account for the gender imbalance among the finalists.

    If I can draw an analogy in a very different field: Why are there so few African-American pit crew workers in NASCAR? Perhaps because a young African-American man with the skill set and work ethic needed can find many more opportunities that pay better and are less dangerous. Starting with an internship at General Motors.

    It’s easy to sit in one’s velvet wing chair in London and pass judgments (in ignorance of the facts on the ground).

    But you have slighted a fine musician who has paid his dues and worked his way up. And who, because of his color and his state-school background, perhaps might not have been hired in the bad old days.


    john marks

  • John Gingrich says:

    I second John Marks’ comments and am concerned about negative reflections on Henry Fogel’s integrity, no matter how indirect. Music director searches will be imperfect forever, often starting with too little musician input, but beginning with questions about the honesty and commitment of those making these decisions is unfortunate.

  • Stuart says:

    That’s what we get when old-timers write blogs. Hey, Norman, both you and Henry are in your 70’s. Henry I know. He is deeply knowledgeable and experienced in areas that you only write about. He is kind, human and thoughtful – the term ‘old-timers’ doesn’t fit the Henry that I know. Let’s stick to the news and stop the name calling.

  • Greg Tiwdichitch says:

    Did it occur to anyone that the reason eight of the candidates were men and one a woman was because that was the ratio of men to women that applied? Or that the women were not as qualified? Why is it that the current climate says unless woman are on equal numbers with men, there’s something wrong? It seems that articles, especially from the U.K., are obsessed with the lack of women conductors. How about caring about really good conductors who are laboring in obscurity who need a break regardless of gender, race, or background? Why not champion great talents that are unrecognized, undiscovered, but deserving? Have REAL standards for finding good conductors instead of political norms about gender or race

  • Henry Fogel says:

    I steer the process, not the selection of conductors; that was the responsibility of the search committee, not mine. For your information, I am also facilitating the search process of the Savannah Philharmonic, which has three female candidates. When I was Board Chair of Chicago Opera Theater, I led the search process that hired Lidiya Yankovskaya as Music Director. It would help if you researched your facts.
    Henry Fogel

  • Um, Norman? You’re an old-timer as well, and so am I. The point is?

  • John says:

    Great news and well deserved. Roger did a terrific job at Pacific Symphony as their most recent Associate Conductor. And it’s great to see a person of color land a Music Director post.

  • John Canarina says:

    In Savannah, Georgia, also overseen by Henry Fogel, out
    of ten candidates, three are women.

  • Arameo says:

    Next headlines:
    “It is a gay”
    “It is a black”
    “It is a Asian”
    “It is a Latino”
    “It is a Jew”

    That’s the way an old timer trying to be modern manage his blog.

    BTW congrats to Kalia and the orchestra for the new collaboration.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Dear Norman,
    I’m an old-timer too, just like you are (a bit younger, though – you’re 70 and I have not quite yet reached that milestone), and I am gobsmacked at your cut-and-dried-old-timer-self-shaming-short-take-analysis of this event.
    (There should be a German word for that.)
    I’ve known and respected Henry Fogel’s writings and actions for decades.
    I’m a bit disappointed in you, old-timer. And I’m not talking about Henry Fogel.

  • chidino says:

    I’m only going to observe that the last time Mr. Fogel hired a conductor around here, I ended up paying for 17 years of Barenboim instead of the CSO continuing the relationship with Abbado. I don’t know what happened to ruin Abbado’s Principal Guest status, or if Mr. Fogel was involved in any way; it is clear, in retrospect, that his priority should have been restoring or maintaining that relationship. Instead, we got 17 years of… does anyone remember? Anybody? Anybody?