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Arts merger was mistake

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I want to commend Ed Reichel and Rebecca Howard on their columns regarding Utah Symphony and Opera's decision not to renew Pavel Kogan's contract as principal guest conductor of the Symphony. The decision, when carefully dissected as Ms. Howard did, makes no sense.

But, unfortunately, it comes too late. Two years ago the misguided decision was made to merge Utah's largest arts institution, the Utah Symphony, with the much smaller Utah Opera and to place the opera administration in charge.

At the time the Utah Symphony had an annual budget of $13 million, more than 105 full-time employees and 200 performances a year. Utah Opera consisted of a $5 million annual budget, very few full-time employees and only four major performances a year. Where was the media outcry at that time?

Changes like these have alienated the orchestra from its audience, which is starkly obvious at the concerts I have attended.

Has it come to the point in history that our important cultural institutions are considered outdated and a thing of the past? I hope not. When important decisions and changes are being made we must stand up right away and make our views known. I wish Maestro Kogan the best and hope to see him conducting on a much larger stage.

Steven Ireland

Salt Lake City