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Conductor Jorge Mester leaving Pasadena Symphony after 25 years

May 14, 2010 |  3:11 pm

Jorgemester The Pasadena Symphony Orchestra is losing Jorge Mester, its music director of 25 years, after contract negotiations with the conductor proved unsuccessful late this week.

Mester’s final concert as music director will be Saturday at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

The orchestra said it was unable to reach an agreement with the conductor on revised contract terms tied to the company’s financial recovery plan. Last year, the company announced steps to right its financial ship after experiencing a budgetary crisis in 2008 that saw the departure of several high-level executives.

Paul Jan Zdunek, the chief executive officer of the Pasadena Symphony and Pops, said Friday that the company was still in negotiations with Mester as recently as this week. He said that Mester chose unilaterally to announce his departure to orchestra members during a Thursday-night rehearsal without first notifying the company.

Mester did not immediately respond to a request for interview. The conductor, who was born in Mexico in 1935, also holds music-director positions with the Louisville Orchestra and the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.

Zdunek declined to elaborate on the specifics of its negotiations with Mester. In 2009, the conductor and the company’s full-time staff took pay cuts as part of the financial recovery plan.

The orchestra will be bringing in guest conductors for the short term while it seeks a new music director. The programs that was already announced for next season will not change, according to the orchestra. Five concerts are scheduled for next season in the orchestra’s classics series, the same number as the current season. This does not include pops performances or special concerts.

In October, the orchestra will move to the Ambassador Auditorium, which will become its primary venue.

The orchestra is expected to end the season with a budget deficit of approximately $200,000, according to Zdunek.

-- David Ng

Photo: Jorge Mester conducts the Pasadena Symphony. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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