May 3, 2013 4 Comments
The first time the Los Angeles Philharmonic held auditions to fill its Associate Principal Clarinet chair, no one was hired. During the past week, they tried again, and this time it looks like they made an offer — and it’s a doozy. No official word from the orchestra, but according to numerous sources, Burt Hara, Southern California native and current Principal Clarinet of the Minnesota Orchestra (MO), will be taking the job. (Ralph Skiano, Principal with the Richmond Symphony, was the runner-up)
This is a huge coup for the LA Phil. Mr. Hara is one of the leading clarinetists anywhere. In addition to having held his position in Minnesota since 1987, he spent the 1996-97 season as Principal with the Philadelphia Orchestra and played some noteworthy concerts with the New York Philharmonic in 2010.
Unfortunately, this also happens to be a huge loss for the MO. Mr. Hara has been one of the undeniable stars of that orchestra. Just last week, he was the featured soloist in the Mozart clarinet concerto during a special concert being given by the musicians of the orchestra (a self-organized gig in the ongoing wake of their misbegotten lockout by the MO’s management). Larry Fuchsberg, writing for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, described his playing this way: ”Hara, at once soloistic and self-effacing, made it look easy. His was marvelously centered playing, unembellished but by no means plain.”
That Mr. Hara would be willing to take what most would consider to be a step down (from Principal in one major orchestra to Associate Principal in another) points to just how big a cluster-f*** the situation with the MO has become. According to the most recent offer from the MO’s management, principals in that orchestra would have to take a 50% slash in their salary — and there is no indication that the MO’s musicians will agree to such a drastic cut. As a member of the musician’s negotiating committee, Mr. Hara has had a front-row seat to all that nonsense. This past October, he seemed resigned to the situation and foreshadowed his departure: