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Jonathan Rubin

Quartet in crisis

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I have heard that the Guarneri quartet has an internal contract that specifies some of their personal conditions, so they work with one another and still be friends. Does anyone know of such a contract, some of its text, or some ideas. Details like how to resolve differences, how to come to decisions, etc. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions? I AM NOT referring to a gig contract that would be used for customers. This is to maintain peace and harmony within the group. In a word.... HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[This message has been edited by Jonathan Rubin (edited 07-28-2000).]

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I thought this was going to be a thread about the Audobon Quartet.... I hope your situation is nothing like theirs!

From the Roanoke (VA) Times:

Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Audubon Quartet's musical chairs start to sound like a

soap opera

Can harmony ever result from so much discord?

Violinist David Ehrlich has been with the quartet for at least 15 years and

does not intend to play second fiddle.



The Audubon Quartet is performing again with its fired first violinist David

Ehrlich, attorneys for both sides confirmed this week.

The Virginia Tech-based quartet, which booted out Ehrlich for undisclosed

reasons Feb. 21, has allowed the longtime group member back

temporarily under orders from Circuit Judge Ray Grubbs.

The quartet presumably will continue to perform with Ehrlich at least until

April 13, the date of the next scheduled court hearing. "That is certainly our

intention," said Allen Ternent, general corporate counsel for the group.

"They are playing together," confirmed Marc Long, Ehrlich's attorney.

The troubled chamber music group plays tonight at Miami University in

Oxford, Ohio, and has a makeup date scheduled Tuesday at Virginia Tech

for a snowed-out event in January. Ehrlich is expected to perform at both


But it is far from clear whether the quartet has ironed out its long-term

problems. In fact, events since Ehrlich reportedly was handed a notice of

dismissal by quartet member Tom Shaw in the presence of the two other

members have only added to the tensions.

On one occasion, Ehrlich appeared at a scheduled quartet concert in

Richmond and asked to perform with the other three, but was rebuffed.

Tom Shaw, Doris Lederer and Akemi Takayama performed that night

without Ehrlich, under the name Terezin Trio.

Audubon attorney Allen Ternent confirmed that the Feb. 26 episode took

place. Ehrlich "asked them if he could play. They told him `no.' "

At the time, Ternent said, it was the group's understanding that a court

order would not permit them to perform as the Audubon Quartet, with or

without Ehrlich, until the matter was resolved. Grubbs has since said his

order was meant to preserve the status quo.

After that concert, Ehrlich and Long asked Grubbs to find the other three

musicians in contempt of court - and to put them in jail .

Asked about his Feb. 28 motion suggesting Shaw, Lederer and Takayama

be "fined and imprisoned," Long said, "When someone blatantly disregards

the court's order, it's pretty serious to me."

To date, the judge has not acted on the request. But it upset violinist

Takayama, judging by an e-mail distributed in her name soon afterward.

The Feb. 28 e-mail notes that playing chamber music together requires

"trust, compatibility and courtesy."

"Many people ask, 'Why was Mr. Ehrlich dismissed?' While Mr. Ehrlich's

initiation of legal proceedings will now apparently require the answer to

that to be revealed in court, please allow me to suggest that the answer can

also be found embedded in Mr. Ehrlich's request to the court that I be

fined and imprisoned, along with my beloved colleagues Doris and Tom."

Ternent said Takayama's e-mail should not be mistaken for the quartet's

official position, but "much of what she said is consistent with the

corporation's view." He also said the letter was written "with the full

understanding that it would become public."

E-mails about the problems, endlessly replicated, have been flying among

the quartet's friends and fans. In addition, a guest column signed by Ehrlich

friends Peggy and David de Wolf and nearly 30 others appears on today's

Roanoke Times Commentary page. It is strongly supportive of Ehrlich.

"Personally, my feeling is this type of behavior goes beyond the pale,"

David de Wolf said in a telephone interview. "To throw somebody out like

that I believe is not right."

Bradley Hertel, who also signed the letter, said Ehrlich "has been treated

very shabbily," and called him "the indisputable artistic leader of the group.

It makes no sense that a group would toss out its strongest component."

Others have called for a suspension of judgment and continuing support for

the quartet during its travails. An e-mail from Nick and Carol Stone asks

Audubon supporters to write letters, attend the April 13 court hearing and

otherwise support the group through and beyond "this time of transition."

Carol Stone referred questions to quartet attorney Ternent.

Quartet members have declined to talk to reporters since the dispute

began. Calls this week to Takayama's home and the Audubon Quartet's

Virginia Tech telephone number were not returned. Ehrlich said he could

not comment.

Ternent said the quartet is not free to discuss the reasons for Ehrlich's

dismissal. But he said problems have existed for a long time, and that

Ehrlich was aware of them. He also said Ehrlich took an unbending

position on some artistic control issues shortly before his dismissal that

influenced its timing.

Ehrlich has been with the quartet for at least 15 years.

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Jonathan --

If you have not already done so, you should read Arnold Steinhardt's book, Indivisible By Four. He discusses the group's decision making processes, personal likes and dislikes, etc. with much humor. Their methods have certainly worked for them!

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You have to start with people that get along or at least respect each other to begin with. Its much more than finding 4 good players, but finding the right chemistry. Each group has their own mix. Some practically live together, others almost never associate outside of 'the job'. You will have to sit down and hash it out. Rules for decision making and working together. Nothing anyone else has done will work for your situation.

Best of luck.

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I'm trying to avoid anything like the Audobon! Thank you - I've read Arnold's book and it was helpful. We are actually an experienced quartet (several years with the same personnel), and I well know the difficulty of "casting" the characters. I'm trying to resolve issues without a "recast."

I was hoping someone might have specific texts or provisions we could "borrow."

[This message has been edited by Jonathan Rubin (edited 07-28-2000).]

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Now that both groups have assured themselves international notoriety, why doesn't Ehrlich make a group called "Audubon II" or "Ehrlichiosis" or "I'm Da Man" and continue his playing career HIS WAY?

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I think any prospective quartet should have to go backpacking together for about 3 weeks and sleep in the same tent, sans niceties like showers and toilets. If they don't hate each other at the end of that time, they are compatible. And the more disgusting this idea is to them, the better this method will work.

It won't take long to see who will work together, who will become the tyrant, and who will cultivate a constant whine. They'll either become a strong team or they'll be in shambles.

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That's right CJ, those who sweat together stick together laugh.gif

Jonathan - sorry that was flippant - hope you get it worked out, I know how hard it is to find a group to make music with!

[This message has been edited by DR. S (edited 07-28-2000).]

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