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Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus Hits Sour Note
by Geoff Kelly
Two weeks ago, the board of directors of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus announced that it had declined to renew the contract of its acclaimed musical director, Dr. Doreen Rao. The board has also declined to offer a specific reason for dismissing Rao, except to acknowledge that it was not about money or about her performance as artistic director. From a statement issued this week by board vice president Andrea Copley:
The board acted for several reasons that were explained as fully as possible in a membership meeting Jan. 16. Due to the confidentiality of personnel matters, the board cannot be more specific. But we have said and standby our statement that anyone in a board-employee relationship would have made the same decisions for the good of the BPChorus under the circumstances the board faced.
This statement was released in response to the formation of a group called the Take Back Our Chorus Committee, comprising approximately 40 singers (aboutthird of the chorus) who have taken a leave of absence to protest Rao’s termination. From the dissident group’s press release:
The abrupt termination of Music Director Doreen Rao in the middle of this landmark season continues a pattern of highly questionable managerial and fiscal practices by the current Board of Directors. Therefore, we are calling for their immediate resignation or removal.
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