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The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Case Study Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 15th, 2022


The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony case study was funded and developed with the help of a coordinated group following an urgent need to solve a shortcoming that befell the Kitchener-Waterloo community. The music lovers were worried sick after the Symphony’s principal conductor was fired without a properly defined reason. The case study was meant to look critically at what went wrong and how the new board would restore peace in the community and the symphony itself (Humphries, p. 1).

Area of study

The areas of study include Kitchener and Waterloo, which are both of medium size and are adjacent to each other. During the 19th century, the Germans and Mennonites settled in these areas. Kitchener got its original name from some of the settlers who first settled in the area. The name was later changed to Berlin. However, the original name was restored during World War 1 due to some comments against the Germans. Kitchener and Waterloo are areas in Canada that harbor the technological unit.

The musical heritage

Both the areas of Kitchener and Waterloo have one thing in common – music plays a big role in the community’s lifestyle. The first musical group was started in mid 19th century and was dubbed the Berlin Band. The band’s first official appearance to the public scene occurred 27 years after its initiation. The Waterloo Musical Society Band was also started and still exists at present.

Choral music and orchestral music have both been adopted in the area and have played an important role in the area’s musical heritage. Various groups were established and they used both types of music, choral and orchestral. The Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra, for example, sang orchestral music. The United Male Singing Society of Berlin, on the other hand, sang choral music.

Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, abbreviated as K-W Symphony, was established in 1944. At first, it was meant to give an accompaniment to the K-W Philharmonic choir (Humphries, p. 2). Kruspe was the first conductor of the orchestra and he led it for the next 15 years. Frederic Pohl later succeeded him and took over for another 10 years. Pohl had good management skills and that is why the orchestra grew significantly to include sixty-five members. It was also in his time that a youth orchestra was borne. When he retired, a thorough search – for a person who could succeed him – was initiated. It took a whole year before they could find a replacement.

Pohl’s successor also did a good job by transforming the orchestra from a group of amateur musicians to a professional group. Armenia took the orchestra a step higher by enabling it to grow artistically. This growth can be attributed to the good relationship he had with the musicians. With time, the orchestra became the largest regional orchestra in Canada and experienced success. A number of their pieces were even aired on CBC radio.

Management of the orchestra

An orchestra needs to be well organized in order to be successful. Every orchestra is made up of some administrative aspect and some artistic aspect. The person in charge of administration is the executive director. His roles include those in financial matters, marketing procedures, conducting contract negotiations and developing the orchestra. The music director heads the artistic aspect of the orchestra. His responsibilities include managing personnel, conducting a certain number of concerts in his tenure and programming.

An orchestra also has a principal conductor as one of the staff members. The roles of the principal conductor resemble those of a music director except that they are more specific and limited in scope. The roles of the principal conductor are important for the running and management of the orchestra and the principal decisions are made after his approval and in collaboration with the manager and the chair of artistic advisory.

Principal conductor

The search committee appointed Fisher-Dieskau Martin as the principal conductor. The search committee consisted of a large body of people including experts, professionals and community members. Fisher-Dieskau managed to beat the 125 candidates for the same position. His roles as the principal conductor of K-W Symphony included those of selecting the guest artists, providing the programmes for the concerts, selecting the members of the orchestra and assessing them.

When the search was completed and Fischer-Dieskau selected, the community and everyone in general appreciated the choice and believed that Fischer-Dieskau would make a good leader. The advantage was that he would blend in the German community that greatly appreciated music. His competencies in music were also at per with those of a person who should hold such a position. He had skills in conducting and in piano and violin playing, which he acquired in various states. His skills were recognized and that explains why he received a scholarship to further his studies.

Fischer-Dieskau also had an experience in conducting orchestra – having conducted over fifty orchestras at different festivals in various areas. When he was given the renewable contract with Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, he proved to be a good leader and therefore, his contract was renewed severally.

Fischer-Dieskau was also generally happy with his position and worked hard to maintain the excellence of the orchestra. There were, however, tough moments during his tenure and this included the moment he suffered a shoulder injury (Humphries, p. 5). This affected him since he could not conduct the orchestra for a period of 4 months when he was receiving treatment. However, he was not dormant during that time. He engaged in planning for a tour set for 2004. He even did this without the knowledge or help of the board members.

When he later forwarded his proposal to the board, the board did not hesitate to offer support but the members were aware of the financial implications of the tour and the pressure it would have on the staff. The board decided to conduct its feasibility. The feasibility was conducted and the board realized that the tour would cost more than they had anticipated. The planning of the tour was very wanting and it required a lot of time and energy on the part of the staff. Other costs were in the form of the transportation costs for the instruments, the accommodation costs and may other costs.

After serious consideration, the board thought that it was not a wise decision to go for the tour. Carleton did not think it was a good idea either. That was such a great risk and none of them was ready to take it (Humphries, p. 6). It was then that the board declared that it would not support the idea of the tour.Fischer-Dieskau was very saddened by this and was down but not out. Even with the discouragements, he went on to search for solutions. After a while, he came back to the board and notified the members that he had found a donor who was willing to donate $ 400,000. However, he chose not to disclose the identity of the donor for reasons best known to him (Humphries, p. 7).

The board heard his plea but since there was no written proof of the money to be received, the board could not take the offer. This period was filled with so much tension and this was not healthy for the symphony. Particularly, Fischer-Dieskau did not go along with his colleague and workmate, Carleton. However, Carleton was the best candidate for her position and therefore, could not be dismissed by the committee. Therefore, the board tried to help the two develop good working relations but to no avail. Their relationship worsened with the minute. Fischer-Dieskau was later fired.

The termination

Fischer-Dieskau’s termination was one event that was filled with a lot of suspicion and controversy since the reasons leading up to his termination were never clear. The board explained this by saying that Fischer-Dieskau was a difficult man to work with since he could not take advice after he had made up his mind. He was a hard nut to crack since he wanted to go for a tour that would bring losses other than profit. The orchestra had already accumulated deficits to risk going into more loss (Humphries, p. 6).

The board also described him as a lone player since he made decisions by himself without considering what the rest of the board members would think. The executive committee discussed this issue and decided anonymously to terminate Fischer-Dieskau’s contract. According to the contract’s terms and conditions, it could be terminated without cause. Fischer-Dieskau’s funs and supporters did not appreciate this decision and this led to commotion. This issue was taken to the media and Fischer-Dieskau showed his willingness to continue working with the orchestra but the board did not allow this. The issue was not taken lightly and after great tension, the board announced its interest in resignation.

Attempts to restore harmony

What followed the great tribulation was a moment of disparity to all individuals. The musicians were also greatly troubled. A new board was then elected after a month without a board. However, the new board did not pick up smoothly either. It faced several challenges too. There was the financial issue and the issue about considering Fischer-Dieskau’s reinstatement.

With the new management (board), the symphony was able to raise funds to settle the financial situation. A general manager was also hired to take Carleton’s place. Although there were still divisions among the board members on the issue of Fischer-Dieskau’s reinstatement, most of them though that he had been treated unfairly all along and deserved to take back the position. Fischer-Dieskau’s case ended after the libel suit was settled and he was paid for the fulfillment of the terms in the contract.


Kitchener-Waterloo symphony started well and served the community that loved music. This went on well until one of the symphony’s greatest assets was disqualified. This did not go well with the music lovers since they demanded for Fischer-Dieskau to be reinstated. This led to the resignation of the board and the election of a new one. The new board battled and work around the situation to bring harmony back to the community and the Symphony.

Works Cited

Humphries, Jill. Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Case Study. Waterloo: Waterloo University Press, 2004. Print.

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