Dallas Symphony Chorus members are singing sour notes over their treatment at the hands of Dallas symphony officials.

They were looking forward to singing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis February 12 and 13 for famous conductor Robert Shaw, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of them.

But that is not to be. Either Maestro Eduardo Mata or Executive Director Leonard Stone or both felt that even though the concert by the chorus was advertised in brochures last spring, the group couldn’t handle the work after all. They asked the chorus from the University of Texas at Austin to fill in.

Stone explained recently that the Dallas chorus simply had too many other performances scheduled, but that is completely off-key, chorus members say. The chorus is having to pay for bungling by former rehearsal director Stewart Clark, according to members. They say Clark rehearsed the chorus the way he wanted to and when Mata got them a week before the performances, the maestro had to redo all the rehearsal work, from word pronunciation to musical inflections.

“I feel like he [Mata] felt we really weren’t competent in a technical way that would suit Robert Shaw,” says one chorus member. “I don’t think he wanted to be embarrassed.

“I feel like it’s an insult to the people of Dallas that we couldn’t pull together 200 musicians to do an effective job with Shaw,” the chorus member says.

Although the damage is done, the symphony leadership is trying to make amends. They fired Clark and promoted his assistant, Frank Sargent, who they say is doing much better with the rehearsals. And a symphony office representative has been sitting in on the last few rehearsals, something that hasn’t happened in a long time. Says a chorus member, “They’re trying to tell us they really do care.”


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