Lezlie Sterling / lsterling@sacbee.com

Robert Tannenbaum

Head of Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera bows out after 7-month tenure

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 - 11:27 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 - 11:33 pm

Recently hired general director Rob Tannenbaum has resigned as head of the Sacramento Region Performing Arts Alliance – the merged organization formed out of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera, the alliance announced Wednesday.

Tannebaum, who became the alliance’s first general director last July, tendered his resignation to the board on January 31. His last day with the organization will be April 6, at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season.

Tannenbaum said he chose to leave for “personal and professional reasons.” He did not elaborate on any specifics that led to his resignation, outside of a stated desire to return to Southern California.

“The board and I have agreed not to go into the whys and wherefores in a public forum,” said Tannenbaum.

Sacramento Philharmonic principal bassist Thomas Derthick, however, said Tannenbuam had expressed frustration with the alliance’s board of directors during a 90-minute meeting he had with the orchestra’s musicians last week. “He said he felt he had been misled by the board as to the true condition of the organization’s financial situation,” Derthick said.

Tannenbaum’s resignation is the latest troubling development for the merged Sacramento Opera and Philharmonic. Both organizations have struggled financially since 2008.

Last month, the organization withdrew an appeal to the Sacramento City Council for a $350,000 forgivable loan after it received a surprise $500,000 gift from the Jim Teel Family Foundation.

The problems have also been administrative. Staff at both organizations has been skeletal. The Philharmonic has been led by an interim executive director since it let former executive director Marc Feldman go in 2011.

“(Tannebaum’s) resignation was virtually a surprise to us,” said alliance board member Sandy Smoley.

“He found, probably, that he wanted to de-emphasize his involvement with the day-to-day management and spend more time on the artistic end of things,” Smoley said.

Tannenbaum has agreed to stay on through April 6, and will serve mostly in an artistic capacity as director of the Sacramento Opera’s upcoming production of “Il Trovatore,” Smoley said.

Tannenbaum had come up with a plan for next year that included downsizing the opera’s offerings from grand productions to chamber works, which could be performed either in smaller concert halls or unconventional locations such as train stations or malls. Despite his resignation, Smoley said the alliance is considering adopting some of the plan’s elements anyway.

“We’re looking for a replacement, but probably on an interim basis, until we see the direction we want to go next season,” she said. “However, we’re united in one thing –we want the orchestra and opera to continue.”

The uncertainty of operating without permanent leadership again was not music to bassist Derthick’s ears.

“For us its another frightening step down a frightening path,” he said of himself and his fellow musicians.

Call The Bee’s Edward Ortiz, (916) 321-1071. Follow him on Twitter @edwardortiz.

Read more articles by Edward Ortiz

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