Tuesday, March 10, 1998

Musicians, city brass
call off meeting

Callers protest the symphony's possible
loss of dates to 'Miss Saigon'

By Tim Ryan

A meeting between city officials and a representative of the Honolulu Symphony's musicians was called off today after the symphony's executive director complained representatives of the symphony had not been invited.

The meeting with city managing director Bob Fishman, Auditoriums' director Alvin Au and a musicians' representative was requested by the city after officials received more than 300 telephone calls from symphony supporters critical of a proposal that would kick the orchestra out of its Blaisdell Concert Hall home for as long as three months.

Producers of the musical "Miss Saigon" want to rent the hall for eight to 12 weeks, starting in late September 1999. That would conflict with the symphony's opening of its 1999-2000 classical season, also the 100th anniversary of the orchestra, said Michael Tiknis, symphony executive director.

Mayor Jeremy Harris is on vacation and was unavailable for comment. City managing director Bob Fishman, is expected to return from Washington, D.C., tonight.

Tiknis said yesterday that he opposed the meeting with musicians' representative Milton Carter if the scheduling problem was going to be discussed.

Any meeting should "also include a representative from the Symphony Board of Directors and me, its executive director," Tiknis said in a letter to Au yesterday.

Lynne Johnson, symphony president, and other trustees want to meet with Au "to explore alternatives," Tiknis said in a letter to Harris yesterday.Tiknis and Johnson said they believe that Au already has decided to rent the hall to the "Miss Saigon" production and that Harris is "fully aware" of this, Tiknis said. Au yesterday denied any deal has been made.

At a sold-out symphony concert Sunday at the Concert Hall, Tiknis and Johnson urged the 2,100-plus attendees to telephone the offices of Harris, Fishman and Au to voice their displeasure. Telephone numbers were printed on the concert program.

An angry Au said yesterday that symphony officials didn't notify the department of the telephone campaign, calling it "an immature way of talking to us."

Tiknis "should have told us about this campaign. We have been very open with the symphony on the scheduling problem and been having ongoing discussions. We feel like we've been blind-sided," Au said.

Moving the orchestra out of the concert hall and to another location "could spell the end of the Honolulu Symphony," symphony officials said last week.

Tiknis said city officials have discussed moving the symphony to the Hawaii Theatre with that venue's executive director Sarah Richards, Tiknis said today. In a letter to John Fuhrman, Auditoriums Events and Services manager, Tiknis emphatically said the symphony "will not fit" on the Hawaii Theatre stage.

Although previous symphony performances have taken place at the downtown venue, they were with a smaller orchestra and not the full 68-member symphony, Tiknis wrote.

"We could . . . perform at the Hawaii Theatre for a limited time which we have always stated we would be happy to do if the rent charges were compatible" to those at the Concert Hall, Tiknis said.

Au has said the city could realize about $1 million from "Miss Saigon" but adding that the city is not motivated by greed. Thus far there have been no offers by the city to pay the symphony the difference in the higher rent of the Hawaii Theatre or to make up for lost revenues because of the venue has 700 fewer seats than the Concert Hall, Au said.

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