Donald Runnicles threatens not to return to Grand Teton Music Festival if musician issue is not resolved | Local

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The ongoing imbroglio at the Grand Teton Music Festival has entered a new phase.

Donald Runnicles, the esteemed music director who has steered the festival artistically since 2006, has penned a letter to festival management expressing frustration with the disinvitation of longtime festival musicians Kristen Linfante, Juan de Gomar and Jennifer Ross.

In the letter, Runnicles said the executive committee had been told he supported the action, though he had spent five weeks communicating his “full-throated opposition” to President and CEO Andrew Palmer Todd and Board Chair Christine Hartley.

That, he wrote, was “perfectly clear.”

Runnicles also said a multitude of orchestra musicians had informed festival management they would “not participate” in the 2020 festival, supporting claims from the Grand Teton Music Festival Players’ Committee, a group that represents festival musicians. Runnicles added that the three musicians would have to be reinstated and those “responsible for this action” would need to be held accountable for the larger group of musicians to return.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he wrote, “as it currently stands, without an orchestra in 2020, without strong board leadership, without an imminent resolution, it is well nigh impossible for me to imagine my role at the helm of the 2020 Grand Teton Music Festival.

“I am acutely aware of never before having written such difficult words.”

When reached by phone, Hartley acknowledged that she had received the letter, but referred comment to Todd, who declined to comment on “communication that was intended as an internal board memo.”

In an earlier interview, the festival president confirmed the executive committee had been involved in the decision to disinvite Linfante, de Gomar and Ross.

When reached Friday, Todd said he had received a copy of the letter but was not included in the letter’s “original distribution.”

Reached by email, Donald Runnicles said he “had nothing more to add.”

The petition to reinstate the disinvited festival musicians has reached over 1,700 signatures. It was first published just over a week ago.


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