Conductor kicks out his biggest donors

Conductor kicks out his biggest donors


norman lebrecht

June 12, 2021

The previous music director died while conducting Bach. Now this one’s alienating the musicians:

Millie Patterson was part of the Arapahoe Philharmonic for 67 years. She enjoyed playing the viola, making music, and seeing her friends at practices and performances. Over the decades, the orchestra became such a major part of her life that she donated large sums of money to it, along with instruments from Universal Music Company, the Thornton music shop she opened with her husband in 1960. Yet over the past six years, Patterson came to dread weekly rehearsals, and just listening to classical music was beginning to make her nauseous….

Read on here.


  • Larry W says:

    This is part of the June 8, 2021 response from Corinne Denny, Executive Director of the Arapahoe Philharmonic. It was not printed in Westworld but is accessible through a link.

    “Diverse views are encouraged in our organization. We have always provided a safe environment for our musicians to work in and will continue to do so in the future. While we understand that change is hard, some volunteer musicians were upset they had to audition, so they attacked us personally and threatened the orchestra’s property and instruments. No organization would tolerate this sort of behavior, those players are no longer in the orchestra, and appropriate legal action was taken to decrease these threats.

    The board is incredibly happy with Devin Patrick Hughes’ performance as a conductor… His rehearsals are professional, respectful, and productive, and his artistic guidance has led the Arapahoe Philharmonic to new musical heights.”

    Diverse views were not encouraged, given that 17 members of the orchestra were dismissed. Were they all dismissed due to threats? They were accused of defamation, and one was booted for gathering data. What about the two board members who were expelled? They were sympathetic to the musicians, who asked to have more input regarding major policy changes. That is only a threat to abused power.

  • Jack says:

    I live in Arapahoe county where this orchestra is located. On the orchestra’s Web site, the conductor looks to be about 25 and his bio on the orchestra’s site runs about three feet long. Read it and you’ll find it’s a ton of feathers. Definitely a guy maybe with some talent whose vision is quite different than the orchestra musicians.

    How he and their board have handled all this is a textbook example of how NOT to manage change, let alone how to manage a crisis.

    Finding audiences for classical music in the greater Denver region (of which Arapahoe County is a part) has always been a struggle. They generally play light fare. I’m guessing Devin is out to build his credentials, so will start programing heavy classics that won’t do well with their base.

    And with a big majority of the players now gone, Devin and the board have their work cut out for them. If they want to professionalize (not to mention rebuild the entire ensemble), they’ll have to fund raise like crazy to cover that cost.

    I don’t see this ending well, either for the conductor or the orchestra.

  • Gustav Mahler says:

    Well that was a depressing read. Worst combination of misunderstanding, poor management and the classic egotistical conductor. What a shame people can’t just get along and play music together

  • christopher storey says:

    Having looked at its website, it sounds like an organisation with a death-wish which is about to be granted : the management board in disarray , half the players gone, substantial benefactors leaving never to return , and all this against the background of the virus which leaves even the best of similar organisations in dire hazard

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    So American 2021. The crash with reality will be very painful.

  • sabrinensis says:

    On YouTube there far more videos of the conductor talking than there are of the orchestra playing. We can certainly infer something from that.

  • A Pianist says:

    Not sure who I dislike more, the delusional conductor or the delusional board. It certainly took two to tango in this situation.

  • Shinek Hahm, the conductor of the Green Bay Symphony in Green Bay, Wisconsin USA tried pulling the same thing, firing the entire orchestra and requiring them to audition. I re-auditioned and won my former position back and I must say that even though the atmosphere at rehearsals was not conducive to music-making, the quality of play improved. The patron base, however, did not buy into attending concerts played by musicians coming from other states and cities while their friends look on. Attendance at concerts was poor in spite of the building of a multi-million dollar concert hall. A new orchestra made up of former Green Bay Symphony musicians was developed and the The Civic Orchestra of Green Bay sprung up within a year or two.
    The Green Bay Symphony is now out of business, the former conductor is no longer conducting any of the orchestras he conducted at one time and the Green Bay Civic is alive and well. The moral of the story: be careful of how you treat people on your way to the “top”.

  • psq says:

    Isn’t it ironic that Osmo Vänskä’s remark to-day:

    about the future of an orchestra should be decided by the players, as music directors come and go, ditto board members?!

  • anon says:

    Devin Patrick Hughes is toxic!! Let this be a warning to anyone else: