ASO board mum on reasons for Dunner dismissal

January 16, 2003|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

The reasons for Leslie B. Dunner's dismissal as musical director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra remained shrouded in secrecy last night as its board of trustees held a special meeting in Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.

Dunner, 47, left the meeting at 9 p.m. and refused to comment. After a short break, board members reconvened in the converted high school after he left. Through a security guard posted at the door outside the meeting, board president Fred H. "Bud" Billups declined to comment.

Dunner's dismissal has driven a wedge through the city's arts community. Two months ago, the symphony - at Billups' suggestion - opted not to renew Dunner's contract for the 2003-2004 season, which starts in late summer.

As a result, nearly two-thirds of symphony's musicians under contract sent letters of protest, more than 75 prominent members of the arts community signed a protest letter, and Mayor Ellen O. Moyer expressed displeasure.

One board member resigned, and seven of the 33 trustees called for a special session, prompting last night's meeting.

Initially, Billups said Dunner was let go because it was time for a change after five years with Dunner as maestro. He also noted declining symphony subscriptions.

But Billups recently acknowledged that Dunner, the group's first black conductor, was let go for other, unspecified reasons. He said it was a personnel matter and has declined to comment.

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