A conversation with Solenne Païdassi
I’m still coming down from the summer– Schoenberg, Shostakovich, “The Jury,” everything and everyone who turned up
"Thank you for recognizing the right thing to do for everyone's good, and for doing it so quickly! You have prevented a local outbreak that our delightful city didn't need and doesn't deserve!”
Rhina P. Espaillat
After the call informing me one of the artists had tested positive (two eventually came down with Covid) the day pivoted immediately into crisis-management mode. Calls flew back and forth between Beth Clary, our intrepid board president, and me; there was an emergency zoom board meeting; the decision was made unanimously to cancel the remainder of the festival on the eve of our first concert. The entire board sprang into action: Pat Cannon, Gage Cogswell, John Moreland, Sherry Rogers, Susan Swan, Bronson de Stadler, Anne Verret-Speck, and Mia Yim checked up on artists; host families (Vern, Susan, Sherry, Will, Beth, Jen, and Marc – you were all amazing) were consulted; announcements sent; ticket-holders contacted; website modified; venues, caterers, photographers, media sources, even Mayor Reardon - all notified. Nothing like a crisis to show everyone’s full stripes - what an outstanding crew.
For me, the disappointment didn’t sink in until the adrenalin began to wear off that evening. We work the whole damn year preparing for this one week and a half. Sure, this wasn’t my first concert cancelled over Covid but it was the biggest by far; will this never $%*#&@ end?! Apart from my own disappointment, I was also deeply concerned about our finances, so carefully stewarded by our diligent treasurer, John Moreland: at enormous cost and with no ticket revenue, the board nonetheless honored our commitment to the artists, who had already worked so hard, by paying them their full fees
The wind started to change when I logged in the next morning. My mailbox was overflowing with kind messages from friends both local and abroad. Then, roving board member and indefatigable woman-of-many-hats, Anne Verret-Speck reported that people were donating their ticket fees in droves: the festival would pull through. I sat down at a loss, unable at first to process both this unexpected good news and the kindness and generosity of the people of this beautiful town.
You did it. You saved the festival.
I can’t wait to see you all in December for Winter Baroque, and then – yes - next summer, 2023. Happy 91s, Rhina!
Thank you, thank you everyone.