RPO fires Arild Remmereit effective immediately.

09:20 PM, Jan 24, 2013

Arild Remmereit, former conductor of the RPO, center, gets a a standing ovation Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Kate Gleason Auditorium in the downtown Rochester Central Library. (SHAWN DOWD/staff photographer)/

Written By Jeff Spevak | Staff music critic

What do you think?

Should the RPO have fired music director Arild Remmereit? Take our poll today. Go online at DemocratandChronicle.com/poll to vote.

Elizabeth Rice, board chairwoman of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, conceded this week that the organization is caught in a “messy” divorce from conductor Arild Remmereit.

The RPO announced Thursday that divorce is now final, and Remmereit’s contract as music director has been terminated, effective immediately instead of in August as the board voted in November.

The reason for the immediate termination is Mr. Remmereit’s failure to perform his contractual job responsibilities since late November,” the board said in its statement. In addition, RPO spokesman Mark Berry said Remmereit’s lack of communication with the board left it with no alternative but to completely sever its ties with the conductor as of Thursday.

Remmereit could not be reached for comment.

Ray Grosswirth, spokesman for the RPO Community Supporters, a group squarely in Remmereit’s corner, said the conductor did not speak with the board or administration because he was following his attorney’s instructions while negotiations were continuing over the terms ending his contract.

It is not what Elizabeth Rice says he’s doing, claiming Arild was non-responsive,” Grosswirth said.

Remmereit and Charles Owens, the orchestra’s CEO, have had a tumultous relationship almost from the start, and each had management coaches appointed. Berry has stated that the board felt Owens met his goals.

We gave Mr. Remmereit the opportunity to continue to perform this season, but he has not provided us with any assurance he would do so,” Rice said in the news release. “Many people have said they want Mr. Remmereit reinstated; however, the truth is, he has shown no interest in being reinstated, let alone finishing this season.”

Berry said the RPO would have no further comments.

Grosswirth disputed Rice’s comment. “He loves our city and he loves our orchestra, despite what has happened to him,” he said.

Remmereit made those feelings known during a public meeting earlier this month held by Grosswirth’s group.

Grosswirth said the RPO Community Supporters will continue to work on Remmereit’s behalf. That includes a Feb. 4 court hearing regarding the process of selecting RPO board members. The RPO Community Supporters had hoped it could nominate six of its own candidates at Wednesday’s meeting, but was not allowed to do so. “That indirectly affects what is happening to Arild,” Grosswirth said. “We still think there’s a chance for him. Attorney negotiations are not by any means over yet. There is the potential for lawsuits. It is an ongoing dialogue.”

Rice said in Thursday’s press release that the RPO had formed a search committee to look for a new music director and was arranging for guest conductors for the rest of the season.