Supporters of Scott Gregg, the long-time principal conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra (JSYO) who was told this week his contract won’t be renewed, have started a petition at www.change.org to get symphony leadership to reconsider the decision.
Gregg, who was recruited in 1995 by then music director Roger Nierenberg, said he had no concern about his status with the symphony until he received an email from symphony CEO Robert Massey on Saturday informing him his contract wouldn’t be renewed.
“It was a blind side on Saturday,” Gregg said.
Compounding his unhappiness was a letter sent to JSYO members and their families by Kathryn Rudolph, the symphony’s director of education and community engagement, in which she wrote, “While we are excited for our future, it is bittersweet, as Maestro Gregg will be retiring from the JSYO following the spring concert on May 14th.”
Gregg said he never discussed retirement with symphony officials, something he told the JSYO members and their families in an email he sent out. “It seems like they made an announcement that I was ‘retiring’ before I actually learned of this decision,” he wrote.
“I know he has personally objected to that term,” Massey said. “We have amended our statement … This is a sad time. Change is hard. We know that Scott is beloved.”
Massey said he hasn’t been contacted directly by any unhappy Gregg supporters. But he is aware the issue is being discussed on social media.
By 4 p.m.Wednesday afternoon, more than 350 people had signed the change.org petition, which was started by Sammy Park, an English horn and oboe player who has been with the JYSO since 2013.
“Up until a couple of days ago, I thought I was looking forward to a fifth, epic year with Maestro Gregg,” he wrote. “However, something happened a couple days ago that completely shattered my plans and dreams for next season.”
Massey said the plan is to hire a third full-time conductor, who would join music director Courtney Lewis and assistant conductor Nathan Aspinall. Auditions for the position will begin later this month.
The third conductor will be principal conductor of the JSYO but will also work with the symphony, Massey said.
“We need an additional staff conductor who is qualified to conduct the Jacksonville Symphony,” Massey said.
Lewis will also increase his involvement with the JSYO by conducting the annual Major/Minor concert during the 2017-2018 season.
The JSYO has been growing rapidly over the last couple of years going from 260 members two years ago to 425 this year.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from Harvard University with a concentration in music theory and composition, Gregg studied conducting at Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory of Music. He is the founder and artistic and executive director of the First Coast Community Music School and music director and principal conductor of the Saint Augustine Orchestra.
Charlie Patton: (904) 359-4413