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Aspen Music Fest votes on Fletcher

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Published: Lynn Goldsmith special to The Aspen Times
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ASPEN – The Aspen Music Festival “corporation,” a body comprising some 90 Music Festival faculty, as well as members of the board of directors and other people connected to the organization, will hold a special meeting Thursday at Harris Hall. The purpose of the meeting is a no-confidence vote on Alan Fletcher, the festival’s president and CEO.

The vote holds no practical weight; even if a majority says it does not have confidence in the administrative leader, Fletcher will not automatically lose his job. As Fletcher noted, “It’s a symbolic vote. But of course, that’s a powerful symbol.”

Thursday’s vote is the latest indication of turmoil at the 61-year-old Music Festival. Toward the end of last summer’s festival, a handful of attendees voiced the opinion in letters to the editor that Fletcher’s personal manner could be dismissive and cold. In October, a noticeably brief announcement from the Music Festival stated that Fletcher would be “stepping down” at the end of the month. In November, however, Fletcher was reinstated; it turned out that his firing was orchestrated by the board’s executive committee, but a vote of the full board overturned that decision. Fletcher has since signed a contract that runs through the end of September.

The major source of the in-fighting was the firing of approximately 11 faculty members. That reduction in faculty size – as well as cutting a week off the summer festival season and reducing the student body – was called for in a strategic plan adopted by the board. There were criticisms, however, about how the firing of faculty was handled.

On April 9, the Music Festival announced that David Zinman, who had been music director for 12 years, asked to be released from his contract, a request which the organization honored. Two days later, Zinman gave a statement saying in part that he was “unable to continue to work in an atmosphere of tension, uncertainty and disrespect.”

On April 16, The Aspen Times reported that a special meeting of the corporation had been called to hold a no-confidence vote regarding Fletcher. Since then, there have been numerous letters written to the local newspapers, some in support of Fletcher and some demanding his departure.

Fletcher said last week that if the no-confidence vote went against him, he would go to the board of directors regarding his position with the festival.

“I think the immediate step is to go back to the board and say, ‘Let’s think this through: Do we want me to continue or not?'” he said.

stewart@aspentimes.com


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