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Flutist Mathieu Dufour apologizes to L.A. Phil, slams Chicago Sun-Times article [Updated]

January 8, 2010 |  8:49 am

Dufour The controversy surrounding the sudden departure of principal flutist Mathieu Dufour from the Los Angeles Philharmonic took another twist today with an e-mail that the musician has sent to members of the orchestra in which he criticizes an article that appeared this week in the Chicago Sun-Times.

In the e-mail, Dufour apologizes for his abrupt departure from L.A., citing "personal circumstances" and the need to have shoulder surgery in February. The flutist writes that he "felt it best to have the surgery in Chicago, and remain there during my recovery."

As was previously reported, Dufour has resumed his post as principal flutist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He had joined the L.A. Phil in September on a one-year trial basis during which time he was allowed to hold positions with both orchestras.

Dufour's departure from L.A. comes only a few months into his contract with the orchestra.

Later in the e-mail, Dufour criticizes an article that appeared this week in the Chicago Sun-Times, in which the musician was quoted as saying that musicians in L.A. "have no tradition there -- no tradition of sound and no tradition of working together as a dedicated ensemble. Maybe they will have that someday in the future.”

In his e-mail, the musician claims that he was misquoted and attacks the article, saying: "I sincerely hope that none of you have read it, but if any of you have seen it, I beg you not to pay any attention to it." 

He continues: "The Chicago reporters seem to like slanting every article to favor Chicago’s orchestra, even if it makes everyone else look bad. I never said or thought any negative things about the LA Phil, in fact I feel quite the opposite."

Andrew Patner, who wrote the article for the Sun-Times, told Culture Monster Thursday that he stands by his reporting. Patner also serves as a critic for radio station WFMT-FM.

Culture Monster tried to reach Dufour for comment through the CSO but was told that he was not available.

Here is Dufour's e-mail, reprinted in its entirety:

Dear musicians of the Los Angeles Philharmonic,

    I would like to express my deepest apologies for having left the season so abruptly. I am sorry that I was not able to say goodbye in person to all of you.  Due to personal circumstances, I felt it very necessary to return to Chicago in January. As some of you may have heard, I need to have shoulder surgery this February, and felt it best to have the surgery in Chicago, and remain there during my recovery.
    I would like to address a recent article published by a newspaper critic in Chicago, in which I was grossly misquoted.  I sincerely hope that none of you have read it, but if any of you have seen it, I beg you not to pay any attention to it. The Chicago reporters seem to like slanting every article to favor Chicago’s orchestra, even if it makes everyone else look bad. I never said or thought any negative things about the LA Phil, in fact I feel quite the opposite.
    The decision to leave LA was extremely difficult for me, as I had a truly memorable and enjoyable time playing with all of you.  For me, the concerts we played together were a thrill and I was excited to be on board the new journey that the orchestra is taking with Gustavo Dudamel. For my colleagues in the wind section, I felt that we had a wonderful rapport with each other and were forming a tremendous bond that was very difficult for me to leave.
    My fiancé and I have very personal reasons for our decision to go back to Chicago. My decision to leave your orchestra does not diminish in any way my warm memories of the time we spent together, nor my feelings about the kind of musicians you all are. It is my deepest hope that you will please not pay attention to any kind of media that may be written about this, as the papers seem to distort everything I’ve ever said, and this has been extremely upsetting to me.
    I have nothing but the utmost respect for your orchestra, for all of you as colleagues, and for the great things that you will surely do in the years ahead. I will always look back on my time in LA with nostalgia, and wish you all the very best success and great times to come.

Very sincerely,
Mathieu

-- David Ng

[Updated: A previous version of this article stated that the radio station WFMT-FM is regarded as the voice of the CSO. A spokeswoman for the radio station said that "we used to produce concerts for them but don't anymore."]

Photo: Mathieu Dufour. Credit: Los Angeles Philharmonic

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