by John Stoehr
The executive director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra announced last week she was resigning at the end of the current season. Jan Newcomb, who had been on the job for just 18 months, said in an e-mail sent to the orchestra’s musicians and administrative staff that she was retiring after 30 years working for arts groups to “take the time to do and enjoy other endeavors.” She cited spending more time with her family and getting to know Charleston better. Newcomb added she may stay on as a consultant during a search for a suitable replacement.
Newcomb’s retirement came about a week after news emerged that the CSO’s resident conductor Scott Terrell (in essence the CSO’s No. 2 maestro) took a position in Kentucky as the artistic director of the Lexington Philharmonic. Terrell auditioned for the job in October. He will work in both cities until his contract expires of 2009-2010.
Neither development is surprising given the dramatic changes that have taken place since the start of this season. Last month saw the musicians and administrative staff concede to a 20 percent pay cut for next season in the form of two months furlough, reducing the length of the season from eight months to six.
Moreover, the musicians had to reduce their number, shedding jobs by way of attrition (meaning people who had not yet earned tenure, the same kind of job-security system at colleges and universities). Concert programming for next season is much leaner compared to years past. Visiting guest soloists, for instance, are virtually nonexistent.