Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lest ye not forget

Judge to consider violinist's claim against symphony?

By Melinda Bargreen

Seattle Times music critic

Developments continue in the ongoing lawsuit of violinist Peter Kaman against his employer, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

Since the dismissal late last month of two of Kaman's three claims against the symphony, the Seattle Symphony asked the court to dismiss the final claim as well.

While that motion was not granted immediately, on Tuesday King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer agreed to hear arguments about whether the final claim — that the orchestra inflicted emotional distress on Kaman — should be allowed to go forward.

If Kaman's emotional-distress lawsuit does proceed, a trial date has been set for Jan. 7.

In an e-mail, orchestra spokeswoman Rosalie Contreras summed up the latest development: "The Symphony invited to file an additional motion to address any issues remaining in the lawsuit. The Symphony intends to file such a motion shortly. At the summary judgment hearing, the judge will formally consider whether Mr. Kaman may, in fact, properly assert his remaining claim and, if so, whether it has merit. We believe it should be dismissed."

The summary judgment hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Kaman, a member of the Seattle Symphony's first-violin section since 1981, suffers from an anxiety disorder. His lawsuit, filed in February 2006 and detailing his long-standing grievances with his treatment in the orchestra, is expected to be a substantial portion of an upcoming New York Times story on the Seattle Symphony, scheduled to appear Sunday.

Melinda Bargreen: mbargreen@seattletimes.com

Also it is the second anniversary of that organizations denial by force of my basic right as a citizen of the United States of America to walk unmolested on the streets of Seattle.
This is of course unconstitutional.

An un-american activity.

Naughty Seattle Symphony!

Let us now pray for Peter Kaman that justice may prevail.

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2 Comments:

Blogger butch said...

Wouldn't it be interesting to get a peek at teh NY Times article that is coming out tomorrow on the "naughty SSO". On line the Times does not allow one to read articles from the paper without being a "subscriber"; not even the movie reviews. It might be worthwhile for you, Lane, to make a trek to one of those old fashioned Seattle paper stands tomorrow, and actually purchase a fresh and fiesty copy of the Sunday paper; just for grins, and of course for more dirt to share and to dish.

3/17/06 – The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Peter Kaman, a member of the first violin section of the Seattle Symphony for 25 years, has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the symphony. “The complaint alleges 'intentional emotional distress arising out of the hostile environment and harassment ... over a long and extended period of time.' The violinist, who has an anxiety disorder that developed in his late teens, said in his suit that he has suffered 'persistent and severe discrimination' ... Rather than seek legal assistance from the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players' Organization, the collective bargaining unit that represents the musicians, Kaman proceeded on his own in King County Superior Court." The paper notes: "The complaint says that 'several union officials' will testify at trial that [Music Director Gerard] Schwarz, 'a stern taskmaster,' has repeatedly treated Kaman more harshly than other orchestra members" and quotes a joint statement by Schwarz and SSO Executive Director Paul Meecham: "We are aware of the disability discrimination lawsuit filed against the Seattle Symphony by one of our musicians, Peter Kaman. We believe the claim is without merit and we shall vigorously defend it." Kaman seeks both compensatory and punitive damages, the amounts of which are unspecified, as well as legal fees ... “He refused comment Thursday, citing the advice of counsel."

Claiming hostile workplace, violinist sues Symphony

By R.M. CAMPBELL
P-I MUSIC CRITIC

Peter Kaman, a member of the first violin section of the Seattle Symphony for 25 years, has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the symphony.

The complaint alleges "intentional emotional distress arising out of the hostile environment and harassment ... over a long and extended period of time." The violinist, who has an anxiety disorder that developed in his late teens, said in his suit that he has suffered "persistent and severe discrimination."

Within two years after Gerard Schwarz became music director of the orchestra, according to the suit, Schwarz began a long-term attempt to fire Kaman, generally regarded as a natural talent. The conductor "constantly, continuously and persistently" harassed him, the complaint says.

As a result of Schwarz's "discrimination on the basis of disability," the suit alleges, Kaman has suffered damages. "His doctor believes that his prognosis for recovery is guarded and the harassment will have long-lasting impact."

In a joint statement Thursday, Schwarz and SSO Executive Director Paul Meecham said, "We are aware of the disability discrimination lawsuit filed against the Seattle Symphony by one of our musicians, Peter Kaman. We believe the claim is without merit and we shall vigorously defend it. Beyond that, we do not comment on pending matters, particularly relating to a current member of the orchestra."

Rather than seek legal assistance from the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players' Organization, the collective bargaining unit that represents the musicians, Kaman proceeded on his own in King County Superior Court.

"We can represent individuals who are willing to go through the grievance/arbitration procedure," said lawyer Bruce Haller, who represents the Players' Organization, "but we do not file lawsuits."

The organization, he added, did not refuse to represent Kaman.

Ilkka Talvi, the Seattle Symphony concertmaster fired nearly two years ago, was represented in his action against the symphony by the Players' Organization.

The complaint says that "several union officials" will testify at trial that Schwarz, "a stern taskmaster," has repeatedly treated Kaman more harshly than other orchestra members.

Kaman seeks both compensatory and punitive damages, the amounts of which are unspecified, as well as legal fees.

He refused comment Thursday, citing the advice of counsel.

The violinist is a product of two prestigious institutions -- Meadowmount School in Westport, N.Y., and the Juilliard School in New York City, where he received both his bachelor's and master's degrees in 1977 and 1978. He joined the Seattle Symphony in 1981.

Kaman's suit says his disorder, a form of obsessive-compulsive behavior, meets the definition of a disability under state and federal law.

P-I music critic R.M. Campbell can be reached at 206-448-8396 or rmcampbell@seattlepi.com.

Schwarz and the Symphony: Soon to Get a New Drubbing in the Press?
Posted Dec. 13 at 12:12 pm by Mark Fefer

Stop the presses? Please?

Gerard Schwarz has broken his leg. A skiing accident did the deed, NOT an irate viola player wielding an instrument case full of cement (as previous reporting about “orchestral terrorism” may have led you to imagine).

But the maestro could face something even more debilitating in the days to come, as the New York Times prepares to publish what sources say is a major story about the infighting, back-stabbing, and musicians’ revolt at the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. The Weekly has covered this story extensively, starting with some explosive reporting by Roger Downey. So far, the symphony’s board of directors has remained unmoved by the bad publicity and by the substance of many orchestra members’ complaints about Schwarz’s personality and alleged artistic deficiencies.
But that could all change, given the way everyone in the big-money arts world pays obeisance to the New York Times.

How embarrassing might the story be? Some clues can be found in a lawsuit currently being pursued against the SSO by longtime violinist Peter Kaman. Kaman, who has an anxiety disorder, sued the symphony last year, claiming discrimination and harassment, mostly at the hands of Schwarz. The bulk of Kaman’s suit was thrown out by a Superior Court judge in a summary judgment finding earlier this month. But as the suit hangs by a sliver, Kaman’s attorney—a one-woman shop who’s up against the powerhouse firm of Davis Wright Tremain—seems to be going nuclear. In her latest filing she includes excerpts from a notorious SSO musicians’ survey from last year that has been whispered about but never officially made public. She also includes a printout of an email apparently sent to the New York Times reporter by the concertmaster of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, where Schwarz recently spent an unhappy stint as Music Director.

The SSO’s attorneys asked the judge to seal the file because of the damage it could do to Schwarz’s reputation, and the judge agreed to do so, at least temporarily. But the file was open on a recent visit to the courthouse.

In the email (addressed to New York Times writer Dan Wakin), the Liverpool orchestra’s former concertmaster, Malcolm Stewart, describes Schwarz as a “podium charlatan with no redeeming qualities. Its a view you will hear echoed around the profession passionatly. Its time someone blew the whistle. Enter NY times!” [All typos sic.] The musicians’ survey, which has been selectively quoted in the press and has been supplied to Wakin, also contains, for the most part, an outpouring of despair and hostility towards Schwarz.

The situation at SSO is highly complex, without clear heroes and villains, and no doubt the NYT story will reflect that. But it’s bound to have even more impact than previous airings in the press about SSO’s troubles. The piece may appear as soon as this Sunday.

Quite a hot issue a the moment. I thought you would like to have these other reporters views as well. You know, Sir Savant, now might be the "time", on the second anniversary of your drubbing, to find a reporter, or law clerk, and splash some Savant dirt of your own all over the white collar of SSO. Just a thought, dude, enit?

Glenn

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go, Peter!!!!!!
-- Anonomann

3:23 AM  

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