Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra petitions to reinstate conductor Anthony Princiotti

by Hayley Hoverter | 8/13/15 6:17pm

In response to Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra conductor Anthony Princiotti’s resignation, over 300 students, alumni, parents and faculty have signed a petition calling for his reinstatement as of press time.

On July 28, Joshua Kol,the Hopkins Center director of student performance programs, notified DSO members of the resignation in an email.

Kol wrote in the email that Princiotti chose to leave Dartmouth after 23 years “to pursue other opportunities and devote more time to his other conducting, performing and teaching engagements.”

Kol also wrote that the Hop will be looking for a replacement to serve as guest conductor in the fall term and that Princiotti will serve as a classical music consultant to Hop interim director Marga Rahmann.

The petition for his reinstatement was written by a group of current and former students.

Paula Chen ’17, a DSO member, said that the petition arose because members were troubled by Kol’s email and perceived a lack of transparency.

“We are concerned about the way that his departure was communicated with us,” Chen said.

Molly Ryan ’17 is one of the DSO’s three student managers. She serves as a liaison between the group and the Hop and makes sure that the orchestra runs smoothly.

Ryan said that the resignation “came as a shock” to the orchestra.

“He had planned one of the most challenging programs for the 2015-16 year that the DSO had ever attempted,” Ryan said. “We were talking to him about this program since the month of April, and he seemed excited.”

Ryan said that DSO members were expecting Princiotti to remain in his current position for the fall. She cited a comment he made about being excited to work with the students in the fall, which he sent in an email to the DSO members after their spring performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6.

Ryan said that she is sending the petition to professors and as many other people as possible.

“Currently, [the petition has] been sent to the current DSO listserv, DSO alumni listerv and other campus listservs. Over 10 of the students have posted it on Facebook,” Ryan said.

Ryan said that DSO members think that the petition is not only important to music students but the broader community.

Ryan said that the best possible outcome for the symphony would be Princiotti’s reinstatement in his original position.

Chen said that Princiotti has not spoken to the DSO members about his resignation, but that the DSO has been in contact with him through third parties and that “he is fine.”

After only playing in the concert for seven minutes her freshman fall and being asked to sit out her sophomore fall because she was not playing on tour, the group did not immediately feel like a family for her. Chen said that it took her until sophomore year for the DSO to feel like a family for her.

Chen noted that performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 was a turning point in her relationship with Princiotti. She said she was struck by how Princiotti not only focused on the music but on “what was happening in Mahler’s life and how that might translate onto the page.”

“All of these people were telling me [that Princiotti] was the most brilliant man you’d ever meet,” Chen said. “Since doing Mahler, I started to see what other students were saying.”

Chen said that she was concerned over the candidates for Princiotti’s replacement and the scarce amount of time left until the fall. Chen was also part of a group of students invited to sit in on the conductors’ interviews and said that she was disappointed.

Chen said that an adequate conductor is needed as the DSO will take on what managers say will be “the most difficult program ever at the DSO” in the fall. They will be playing the “extremely ambitious” pairing of Beethoven and Sibelius symphonies in one term.

Sara McElheny ’17, a member of the DSO, was one of the students that met with College President Phil Hanlon to discuss reinstituting Princiotti. She said that after communicating their concerns to Hanlon, he said that “he had been in contact with the Hop” to hear the other perspective.

“He didn’t make any promises,” McElheny said. “He wants to direct us to the right person.”

Alice Wang ’16, one of the managers of the DSO, said that a student had inquired whether Princiotti’s new role would allow him to be participate in the replacement-finding process, but Rahmann only said “we need to respect [Princiotti’s] wishes.”

Wang also said that the DSO members want to directly communicate with Princiotti though they have been unable to.

In 2005, the College attempted to remove Princiotti from his position as a violin instructor. Students and faculty complained, asking that he return to the music department.

While Princiotti faced removal in 2005, this year he formally resigned.

Chen said that whether Princiotti is reinstated or not, she hopes the petition will bring to light student concerns regarding the music department.

“Now it’s different because he actually signed his resignation agreement. Now things are legally finalized,” Chen said. “Students are frustrated with how music department is run, and I hope that the petition exposes these issues.”

Kol did not respond to a request seeking comment by press time.