Diminuendo in orchestra's gay rights case

The Virginian-Pilot reports ~ 'Grammy-nominated conductor JoAnn Falletta (left) of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra has avoided a hearing over workplace discrimination complaints filed by a musician at her other post in Buffalo, N.Y. The complaints against the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which focus on her handling of alleged sexual-orientation discrimination, have been settled. A hearing on the allegations had been set for Monday.

In 2004, Falletta fired openly gay second-string oboe player J. Bud Roach after he filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights saying he was discriminated against, according to a May statement released by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "The case settled," Thomas Shanahan, the division's deputy commissioner for external relations, said in an e-mail Wednesday. "The hearing will, therefore, not happen."

In a telephone interview Friday, Roach said, "All I can tell you is that the situation has been resolved." He declined to elaborate. Daniel Hart, the executive director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, said in an e-mail Tuesday, "the matter with Bud Roach has been mutually resolved and we have no further statement to make."

Roach alleged that the principal oboe player, Pierre Roy, used an anti-homosexual slur in February 2003, saying "we wouldn't want any more" gays in the orchestra. That March, according to the alliance's statement, Roach says he brought his concerns to Falletta, the music director and conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic. He said she told him "these things get messy," and advised him to drop the matter, reassuring him that she had no concerns with his musical ability.

"The conductor, JoAnn Falletta, did nothing to prevent or stop anti-gay prejudice among the musicians she oversaw," Roach was quoted as saying. "Over the course of the next six months, Roy's hostility toward Roach grew, and he publicly stated a desire to have Roach removed from the orchestra," the statement said. Roach hired an attorney and set up an October 2003 meeting with the Buffalo orchestra's management. "It was at that meeting - almost eight months after Roach's initial complaint and after more than 18 months of playing with the BPO - that JoAnn Falletta stated for the first time that there were 'musical issues' with Roach," the statement said.

In December 2003, Roach filed a complaint with the New York human rights division, and he was fired from the orchestra on Feb. 12, 2004. "At every juncture they have shown an unwillingness to treat me with the basic dignity that any employee deserves," Roach said in the statement.He filed a retaliation complaint against the orchestra on March 22, 2005, and the division ruled that there was probable cause to determine that Roach had been discriminated against and recommended a public hearing.

Falletta was traveling this week and could not be reached for comment. Her public relations representatives also declined to comment on the Roach case. Falletta's Web site indicated that was scheduled to work with the Shanghai Symphony in China on June 9 and was to appear at the OK Mozart Festival in Bartlesville, Okla., on Wednesday.

Among other music-related activities, Falletta essentially handles two major responsibilities. She conducts and directs the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and was paid $145,000 for that work in the 2004 fiscal year, according to the orchestra's most recent public tax filing. Her salary for conducting and directing the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra was not listed on similar tax documents, and Hart declined to discuss salary issues. The orchestra did pay $256,539 for "staff conductor fees" to a company owned by Falletta's husband, renowned clarinetist Robert Alemany, in 2005, the records show.'

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I guess now we'll never know.

Given Faletta's background, I'm kind of sceptical about Roach's claims.

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