AN UNDER-FIRE conductor faces the music today as he confronts the orchestra who voted not to renew his contract after 2006.
American Gerard Schwarz has been with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra for three years.
But an unofficial vote from musicians has come down in favour of not renewing his contract.
During the orchestral meeting, it is understood that 45 of the 64 contract players who were eligible to vote expressed the opinion that Mr Schwarz should only be employed until 2006 when his current commitment ends.
The beleaguered conductor, who also conducts for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, returned yesterday to be greeted by the bad news following a tour of America and a holiday in Nice.
Today, he will begin rehearsals with the RLPO in preparation for the Young Musician of the Year final tomorrow.
Mr Schwarz, 56. declined to comment on his return last night but the Philharmonic's chief executive, Michael Elliot, said: "We are trying to control the public discussion of this at the moment.
"We are starting a serious internal review and we have taken into account the orchestral view through our two orchestral members of the board.
"I'm not going to make any judgments about what the outcome of the review will be."
Mr Elliot also branded members of the orchestra who had made their concerns public "silly".
A final decision on whether to renew Mr Schwarz's contract will be taken by the 11-strong board of directors following the review. The issues that musicians have disagreed with Schwarz about are said to include programme planning and repertoire choice. There has been some concern over the new umbrella job title of musical director.
Mr Schwarz started at the Philharmonic in September 2001, but was told he had got the job 18 months before.
When appointed, he said: "There are tough decisions to be made and I'll make them. They are part of my job."
The musical director was taken on for five years rather than the usual three and was chosen after just a couple of playing visits to the city.
Mr Schwarz said at the time: "The players in the orchestra identified what they were looking for, the kind of person they wanted and what they wanted, I am told, was me!"
He said the quality of the orchestra was extraordinary, adding: "The musicians are so wonderful and so is the hall."
Mr Schwarz first made his name when as a precocious 18-year-old he played a solo for Leonard Bernstein, the composer of West Side Story.
Following his recital, Bernstein put down his baton and asked: "What genius do we have amongst us today?"
From 1969 to 1975 he was musical director of the city's SoHo Ensemble.
He has also worked for the New York Chamber Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and numerous others around the world.
In 1994, he was named American Conductor of the Year and in January this year President Bush announced his nomination to serve on the National Council on the Arts in the USA.
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