Breaking: Grand Teton reinstates 3 ‘disruptive’ musicians

Breaking: Grand Teton reinstates 3 ‘disruptive’ musicians


norman lebrecht

December 04, 2019

The Board of the Grand Teton Music Festival met last night and decided to reinvite three musicians who had been dismissed for ‘disruptive behaviour’. Two of the musicians, Kristen Linfante and Juan de Gomar, are members of the orchestra’s Players’ Committee; the third, Jennifer Ross, was principal second violin of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Their dismissal provoked widespread protests, together with a threat from conductor Donald Runnicles to quit the festival. Runnicles Donald flew in to attend this board meeting.

High-profile coverage on Slipped Disc and local media have forced the festival director, Andrew Palmer Todd, to back down.

There seems to be a rule that the lovelier the landscape, the worse the human ecology.



  • NYMike says:

    Todd should be dismissed.

  • Cantantelirico says:


  • Larry W says:

    Great news! Having backed down, Todd should now step down.

  • Barry Guerrero says:


  • Musician says:

    Good news! Good luck moving forward with that asshat running the show. Looking forward to another summer of “gig brag/hiking” photos on social media.

  • Couperin says:


  • Anon says:

    So glad to hear this! My experience is that firing someone or trying to fire them in the orchestral world often has karma and will come back and bite the person who’s firing in the butt. Looks like that might happen here.

  • fflambeau says:

    What’s odd about this is that the music director, Todd, is a concert level pianist who has played at Carnegie Hall with 3 cd’s to his credit. I expected his biography would show a business wonk, he’s not one. Something’s wrong, maybe we need some inside info.

  • FP in New York says:

    There are a lot of very bitter Grand Teton musicians commenting here. The reality is that dismissing disruptive and childish members of the orchestra (they aren’t fired – participation each summer is by invitation!) is simply not done without the approval of Board. To blame and impugn one person and their reputation and make them a scapegoat is recklessly fatuous. Norman did nothing to influence what ultimately happened, and this ridiculous vitriol directed at one person is genuinely pathetic. Anonymous keyboard warriors need not apply.

    • Larry W says:

      Much of what you have written here is not true.
      “There are a lot of very bitter Grand Teton musicians commenting here.”
      False- Of the 8 commenting, only one is a Grand Teton musician.
      “The reality is that dismissing disruptive and childish members of the orchestra”
      False- The three stated the concerns of the musicians they represented in a professional manner.
      “(they aren’t fired – participation each summer is by invitation!) is simply not done without the approval of Board.”
      Partly True- The Executive Board (10 of 20 Board members) was consulted, but Todd falsely represented the position of Music Director Donald Runnicles.
      “To blame and impugn one person and their reputation and make them a scapegoat is recklessly fatuous.”
      WTF?- The person making the decisions takes responsibility– credit for good, blame for bad. Those decisions make their reputation.
      FP in New York/ Anonymous keyboard warrior: You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. Your comments are recklessly flatuous.
      You need not reply.

  • Aaron J says:

    Donald Runnicles was not physically present at the board meeting.

    • Larry W says:

      This is true. Here are relevant reported facts:

      In a letter to Board Chair Christine Hartley, GTMF Music Director Donald Runnicles said the executive committee had been told he supported the action to disinvite three longtime festival musicians, even though he had spent five weeks communicating his “full-throated opposition” to Hartley and President and CEO Andrew Palmer Todd. He said his position was “perfectly clear.” Runnicles added that the three musicians would have to be reinstated and those “responsible for this action” would need to be held accountable for the larger group of musicians to return. About 100 orchestra musicians had informed festival management they would “not participate” in the 2020 festival.

      Hartley acknowledged that she had received the letter from Runnicles, but referred comment to Todd, who declined to comment on “communication that was intended as an internal board memo.” While Runnicles has “full artistic purview with the orchestra,” Todd said festival management and the CEO are responsible for resolving “administrative” issues, which could include behavior. The process for such action involves the board’s 10-person executive committee.

      The petition to reinstate the disinvited festival musicians had reached over 1,700 signatures.

      • Greg Becker says:

        Larry: Do you know how easy it would be to find 100 musicians willing to spend part of the summer playing music and hiking the Grand Tetons? Again, festival participation is by invitation. Empty “threats” to leave are meaningless, and easily remedied if followed through. Far more important are the reasons the three were dismissed in the first place. Also: why would it be incorrect to stipulate that the festival music director is indeed responsible for artistic matters, while the president and board handle issues of administration and, if need be, initiate actions to remedy disruptive behavior (or, in this day and age, sexual impropriety)? This is how it works at Aspen and Marlboro and every other major festival.

        • Larry W says:

          Greg: Musicians are not interchangeable cogs in a machine, especially when they have worked together in an ensemble for decades. It is not “empty threats” when at least 100 musicians said they would not return. Donald Runnicles said that, as well. Is he easily replaced? If you say yes, your credibility just vanished.

          There is no evidence whatsoever that these three musicians did anything other than advocate for their colleagues. If there were legitimate grounds this dismissal would not have been reversed. If you are aware of any reasons for their dismissal, such as disruptive behavior, please share them. But it sounds like you’re of the belief that musicians should just “shut up and play,” and any objection to administrative direction is grounds for dismissal.

        • Larry W says:

          12/19/19: In a show of complete solidarity, all 239 festival musicians submitted a collective letter to the Board stating that they would not return to the festival in 2020 unless Andrew Todd was relieved of his duties immediately. The GTMF Music Director, Donald Runnicles, similarly wrote the Board that he would not return next season while Todd remained CEO.

          Not so easy after all.