December 29, 2017
As recently appointed Executive Director of Chicago’s International Music Foundation (IMF), and a longtime supporter and practitioner of classical music in this city, it pained me to read Norman Lebrecht’s incomplete story on the Slipped Disc website, re: the circumstances surrounding the travel schedule of cellist Sebastian Bäverstam. Without meaning to disparage a fellow artist, I must set the record straight on behalf of the IMF Board and its beloved Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series.
As the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts take place every Wednesday at 12:15pm sharp and are broadcast LIVE on Chicago’s Fine Arts Station, WFMT-FM Radio, there is little margin for error in terms of late flight arrivals on the concert date. Thus, ALL artists are contractually required – and advised well in advance – to arrive the day prior to assure they are in town on the morning of the performance. We gladly provide for their overnight accommodations to minimize any inconvenience.
This requirement – for Sebastian to arrive in Chicago on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, in advance of his performance on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 – was stipulated in a letter of agreement sent to Sebastian’s manager on August 28, 2017, four+ months in advance of the concert date. We learned from his manager on December 7 that Sebastian was planning to fly to Chicago on the morning of the concert. We responded to both his manager and Sebastian to remind them that artists were required to be in Chicago the day before the concert. It was not until Dec. 21, 2017, when Sebastian notified the IMF production team that he could not exchange his flight tickets and would need to arrive on Wednesday morning, January 10. Again, as the concert is broadcast live – and has been for 40 years – we cannot risk having an artist fly in the day of the concert – especially given Chicago winters and the potential for delay – and were unfortunately forced to cancel this engagement so as to find a replacement for the broadcast (and our loyal concertgoers).
We wish Sebastian all the best in his career and look forward to hearing of his future performances. The non-profit International Music Foundation has showcased classical music artists of the finest caliber for some four decades, offering valuable audience and broadcast exposure for artists on the rise, such as Sebastian Bäverstam, and the community here recognizes that we would never intentionally seek to compromise an artist’s career in any way.
I hope this provides some clarity.
Executive Director, International Music Foundation