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Readers respond to the call for greater transparency at the San Francisco Symphony

The symphony is facing an inflection point after its beloved music director and conductor resigned amid planned programming cuts.

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AI illustration by Clark Miller for The Standard.

In response to our recent opinion piece calling for transparency at the San Francisco Symphony following the resignation of musical director Esa-Pekka Salonen, The San Francisco Standard is publishing a selection of readers’ comments, which have been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Cheers to a second-class city

“The board's shortsightedness is in not understanding that the hollowing out of one of San Francisco’s most important cultural institutions only adds to the world’s perception that San Francisco is a second-class city. 

The board members are kidding themselves in thinking that the city will ever be able to attract the top leadership talent the musicians and audiences expect.

The lack of transparency as to the real financial issues facing the orchestra is despicable.

Face the music, literally.”

—Rae Terry

Acoustic fail

“Being of two gold rush-era seminal San Francisco families and a patron of many international symphony and opera venues, I have to express my sadness at the demise of the remains of high culture within San Francisco. However, it was predictable!

Following the $10 million ‘acoustic upgrade’ to the symphony hall, even the finest musicians' and conductors' performances are rendered less due to the acoustics, which were designed piecemeal. This is in stark contrast to the truly world-class acoustics of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

I’ve often considered Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco a cobbled-together type of construction that does not provide acoustic characteristics sufficiently appropriate to the magnificently precise and sublime notes of rare, truly great musical performances.”

—Dennis Ferrier

Painful cuts may be needed

“Cynthia Hersey's recent opinion piece certainly expressed how much she cares for the San Francisco Symphony and wants it to thrive now and in the future. I appreciate that.

However, she asks for increased transparency regarding the symphony's financial state when detailed, audited financial reports are available online. 

Maybe, just maybe, the board of governors is taking needed steps to ensure the continued solvency of the institution? Those steps may be painful and unfortunate, but that does not mean they are not required.”

—Robert Meadows

+1 for transparency

“Totally agree with Cynthia Hersey. Transparency is needed.”—Eileen Turner

We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our opinion articles. You can email us at Interested in submitting an opinion piece of your own? Review our submission guidelines.