Arboretum Foundation Strikes a Sour Note with California Philharmonic Maestro Victor Vener and his 15 year Tenure at Los Angeles County Arboretum to Look for New Home

Victor Vener at one of last summer's popular concerts - Photo by Terry Miller

By Terry Miller

A press release generated by the County of Los Angeles and the Arboretum Foundation was distributed on Wednesday evening April 27, 2011 regarding the Arboretum’s current negotiations with the Pasadena Symphony and Pasadena POPS. This press release apparently came as a complete surprise to Cal Phil director Victor Vener and Cal Phil Board of Directors.
Despite these new developments, Cal Phil will perform this summer, as scheduled, at the Arboretum starting June 25 with Beethoven and the Beatles.
The release which was “ distributed to the media prior to and without the knowledge of the California Philharmonic which created the Arboretum as a music venue 14 years ago.” Vener said.

The release, was distributed with the County of Los Angeles Dept. of Parks and Recreation logo “ by mistake” according to Imee Perius, Public Information Officer for County of Los Angeles Parks and Recreatiion .

Here is part of that release:

“The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden announced today that it will begin negotiations with the Pasadena Symphony Association to establish a contract to present summer concerts at its 127-acre site in Arcadia, beginning in 2012. The decision was the result of a request for proposal process that included invitations to several local symphonic organizations.
Arboretum CEO Richard Schulhof said: “The Arboretum looks forward to a productive partnership with the Pasadena Symphony Association that can further realize our potential as an outstanding venue for great music.” “We are delighted to partner with the Arboretum”, added Paul Jan Zdunek, CEO of the Pasadena Symphony Association.
“It allows the Pasadena Symphony and POPS to share its artistic resources with an even wider audience and affirms our commitment to serving the entire San Gabriel Valley.” Following successful negotiations, the new partnership would begin with concerts in summer 2012.”

The annual Cal Phil Festival on the Green concert series has been the premier summer concert series in Arcadia for a decade and a half.
The release by the Arboretum Foundation ( printed on County of Los Angeles letterhead) appears to have been sent out 15 minutes after Maestro Victor Vener received a brief phone call to his personal cell phone late Wednesday informing him that the Arboretum Foundation was in negotiations with a neighboring orchestra.
CalPhil Board of Directors have yet to receive official written notice from either the Arboretum Foundation or the County of Los Angeles .
Cal Phil issued a brief statement to the media:
“Needless to say the news came as a complete shock to us and we are deeply disappointed for numerous reasons which we will address soon. We are outraged with how this has been handled from the beginning. We take our commitment to the citizens of Los Angeles County, especially our home community of Arcadia, as well as our musicians and long standing loyal patrons, extremely seriously.”

The mission of the CalPhil Foundation is to bring excellent and professional performances of great music to the widest possible audience. To achieve our mission, we work to provide access to performances; serve as a major cultural resource; achieve regional, national and international recognition for the California Philharmonic; provide free and low-cost educational outreach concerts and programs for all people; encourage community involvement in the organization beyond concert attendance, through volunteer participation, network groups and leadership role opportunities.

Through a joint operating agreement signed in 1998, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden is managed through a public-private partnership between the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation. As part of its role as co-manager of the facility, the Arboretum Foundation is responsible for special events, and represents the Arboretum in the development of summer concerts and education programs.

As it makes the announcement, the Arboretum thanked the California Philharmonic for over a decade of successful partnership. “In tribute to the Cal Phil and its music director Victor Vener, Schulhof said, “The Arboretum expresses its great appreciation to the California Philharmonic for many years of wonderful music programs.”

While Cal Phil is saddened by the developments, they will continue to attempt to negotiate with The Los Angeles County Arboretum, according to sources. As a back-up plan, Cal Phil is also seeking alternative local venues for the highly popular and succesful summer concert series which has been an Arcadia insitution for the past 14 years.

There will be a protest tomorrow morning ( Saturday April 29 ) outside the Los Angeles County Arboretum in opposition the the Arboretum Foundation’s decision to remove Cal Phil as of next year.

Beacon Media has contacted Supervisor Mike Antonovith’s office for comment on this matter but as of press time have no official word from the County Supervisor.

April 29, 2011

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ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Arboretum Foundation Strikes a Sour Note with California Philharmonic Maestro Victor Vener and his 15 year Tenure at Los Angeles County Arboretum to Look for New Home”

  1. Debra Houston says:

    As a long time follower of the California Philharmonic, I am deeply saddened to hear that the Arboretum threw them out to the street it seems, without allowing them to address this opportunity. It sounds like Cal Phil didn’t even know about the RFP process. A typical government organization doing things under the table, I’m ashamed of the Arboretum for their treatment of Cal Phil, who has done nothing but honor and uphold and give the Arboretum a name in the City of Arcadia. I truly hope they find a location that will appreciate all they do to educate and bring culture to the county of Los Angeles. I will follow Cal Phil where ever they go, and encourage you all to do the same…Please show your support for Cal Phil on Saturday, 4/30 at the Arboretum to protest their decision at 9:30am.

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