Author of Clark Petition Quits Pacific Symphony

Times Staff Writer

Charles T. Adams, the musician who petitioned the Pacific Symphony board of directors in the wake of its decision to fire founding conductor Keith Clark, has resigned from the orchestra effective today, Adams and the orchestra’s personnel manager said Friday.

Adams, 46, had been a member of the orchestra for two years, most recently as assistant principal violist. His recently publicized petition criticized the board for “inappropriate” tactics in the removal of Clark by a 12-to-11 vote and raised issues of excessive spending by the orchestra’s administrators. It was signed by 35 of the orchestra’s 85 members.

Adams said Friday that he resigned because of unhappiness with the direction in which the orchestra is moving and because he needs a break from the stress of performing. Both he and Bob Peterson, a violinist who serves as the orchestra’s personnel manager, emphasized that Adams had not been pressured to resign by symphony management as a result of the petition.

Some board members have called the petition “misinformed” and have denied that the Clark vote was improper. Although they have acknowledged that the orchestra is facing a deficit of several hundred thousand dollars, they deny that operational problems exist.


The petition asked the board to reconsider its vote against extending Clark’s contract. The board has not complied. The petition also asked the board to speak out against “shabby” treatment of the orchestra by local critics.

The orchestra’s executive director, Louis G. Spisto, declined comment on Adams’ resignation, referring a reporter to Peterson. Peterson said Adams’ “reasons for resigning are that he said he is unhappy about the present situation with the orchestra and he is ready to do something else with his life. He wants to change his personal relationship to the music business. . . . While he was disappointed about the orchestra, he was not feeling pressure related to the petition.”

“I’m tired of being on stage,” said Adams, of Costa Mesa. “After 19 years of playing professionally, I don’t want to be there anymore. . . .

“I’m not being forced to leave. I am leaving and resigning totally voluntarily for personal reasons and also for the fact that I’m obviously disappointed in the way the orchestra has operated, or I would never have written the petition.”


Earlier this week, Adams said that when he and two other musicians submitted the petition to the symphony board about a month ago, they received an angry rebuke from Stewart C. Woodard, a member of the board’s executive committee.

“Woodard said musicians should do their job and that he was extremely angry that I had done this,” Adams said. “He said, ‘It’s our decision (to remove Clark). Whether it is a bad decision or a good decision, we’re going to stick with it. That is the way it is.’. . . He said we should keep our mouths shut.”

Woodard has called Adams’ account “inaccurate.” On Friday, however, the other musicians who submitted the petition--violist John Acevedo and violinist Linda Owen--corroborated Adams’ account.

“It’s very accurate. . . . We couldn’t believe that there was somebody on the board who was so angry,” Acevedo said. “All we were asking for was a re-evaluation of the decision. Charlie (Adams) didn’t make any antagonistic statement at all. He apologized very much for not having a petition that was better written.”


Owens said Woodard “exploded” at Adams, becoming so angry that three other board members met with the musicians outside afterward and apologized for Woodard’s behavior.

Michael N. Gilano, chairman of the board of directors, has called Adams an “activist.” Adams responded Friday: “Yeah, I guess if Thomas Jefferson was an activist, then I’m an activist. . . . I don’t want to denigrate the people on the board, some of whom have worked hard. But this (orchestra) is a public trust in the sense that the audience must feel that the income is being well spent. . . . The board has to be ultimately responsible to their audience, or they will lose their audience. If they try to impose their taste on the audience, then they will lose their audience.”

An orchestra member who has stayed neutral throughout the controversy said earlier this week that some musicians signed the petition “for fear of their jobs. Some didn’t sign for fear of their jobs.” Adams said he did not write the petition under pressure from Clark. “I wrote this petition up at home and completely on my own. Nobody was under any pressure to sign it. There were people who didn’t sign it because they don’t like Keith, and there were others who wanted to sign it and didn’t because they didn’t want to be involved.”

Asked why he waited a month between submitting the petition and making it public, Adams said: “I sat on it for a long time with a certain amount of reluctance. I felt that it was a story that deserved to be told. . . . I am made totally nervous by any publicity at all. I felt that only one side of this story had been told, and I was waiting for the other side to be told and it never was.”