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Can new conductor beat Ling's $429,960 deal?

No replacement yet set for departing big-money symphony leader

Jahja Ling
Jahja Ling

The price of fine music could be going up even more for the San Diego Symphony with the departure of conductor Jahja Ling.

The Indonesian-born Ling said on Thursday, November 20, that he will be leaving the local podium.

“After the 2016–17 season, I look forward to pursuing more international guest conducting, passing on the great musical traditions to the next generation through teaching and continuing with my volunteer work in the Christian mission,” according to Ling's statement.

Martha Gilmer

“I am hopeful and confident that the future of this fine orchestra, led by our new CEO Martha Gilmer and supported by our talented administrative staff and committed board of directors, will be bright,” he said.

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Much of that future could depend on enticing a new leader with a generous salary, and Ling didn't come cheap.

According to the symphony's most recently filed financial disclosure with the Internal Revenue Service, covering the period between July 2012 through June of last year, Ling got $429,960.

That made him the symphony's second highest paid independent contractor; Burger Construction of Sorrento Valley received $1,104,153; third was New York's Columbia Artist Management, with $376,250.

Edward and Kari Gill, Douglas and Geniya Manchester

How much Gilmer is making in her new job was not immediately known. Her predecessor, recently exited CEO Edward Benton Gill, was paid $317,620, plus related compensation of $23,484, for a total of $341,104.

The Ling and Gill era dawned in 2004, two years after Qualcomm billionaire Irwin Jacobs and wife Joan came up with $120 million to bankroll the once-bankrupt organization.

"This fall, the symphony's new conductor, Jahja Ling, officially becomes music director, at an annual salary that is believed to be in the high $200,000s," the Union-Tribune reported in July 2004.

"He's working closely with the orchestra's new executive director, Edward B. 'Ward' Gill, whose salary is thought to be in the neighborhood of $200,000. (His predecessor, Douglas Gerhart, capped out at $209,000 before his departure last year, according to the symphony's latest Form 990 on file with the Internal Revenue Service.)”

Others well compensated during 2013, according to the IRS document, include concert master Jeff Thayer, with a total of $219,179; Megan Pogue, vice president of business development, at $172,542; and chief operating officer Robert Wilkins, with $166,451.

Symphony boardmember Douglas Manchester, who often shows up at the group’s lavish society fundraisers with his Russian-born second wife Geniya and is the owner of the U-T, got $298,996 for "advertising."

"We acknowledge that our success is the result of the effort of many throughout San Diego," says the symphony's website. "The San Diego media of course has played a pivotal role, but no other media outlet has gone above and beyond the call of duty more than U-T San Diego.

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Jahja Ling
Jahja Ling

The price of fine music could be going up even more for the San Diego Symphony with the departure of conductor Jahja Ling.

The Indonesian-born Ling said on Thursday, November 20, that he will be leaving the local podium.

“After the 2016–17 season, I look forward to pursuing more international guest conducting, passing on the great musical traditions to the next generation through teaching and continuing with my volunteer work in the Christian mission,” according to Ling's statement.

Martha Gilmer

“I am hopeful and confident that the future of this fine orchestra, led by our new CEO Martha Gilmer and supported by our talented administrative staff and committed board of directors, will be bright,” he said.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Much of that future could depend on enticing a new leader with a generous salary, and Ling didn't come cheap.

According to the symphony's most recently filed financial disclosure with the Internal Revenue Service, covering the period between July 2012 through June of last year, Ling got $429,960.

That made him the symphony's second highest paid independent contractor; Burger Construction of Sorrento Valley received $1,104,153; third was New York's Columbia Artist Management, with $376,250.

Edward and Kari Gill, Douglas and Geniya Manchester

How much Gilmer is making in her new job was not immediately known. Her predecessor, recently exited CEO Edward Benton Gill, was paid $317,620, plus related compensation of $23,484, for a total of $341,104.

The Ling and Gill era dawned in 2004, two years after Qualcomm billionaire Irwin Jacobs and wife Joan came up with $120 million to bankroll the once-bankrupt organization.

"This fall, the symphony's new conductor, Jahja Ling, officially becomes music director, at an annual salary that is believed to be in the high $200,000s," the Union-Tribune reported in July 2004.

"He's working closely with the orchestra's new executive director, Edward B. 'Ward' Gill, whose salary is thought to be in the neighborhood of $200,000. (His predecessor, Douglas Gerhart, capped out at $209,000 before his departure last year, according to the symphony's latest Form 990 on file with the Internal Revenue Service.)”

Others well compensated during 2013, according to the IRS document, include concert master Jeff Thayer, with a total of $219,179; Megan Pogue, vice president of business development, at $172,542; and chief operating officer Robert Wilkins, with $166,451.

Symphony boardmember Douglas Manchester, who often shows up at the group’s lavish society fundraisers with his Russian-born second wife Geniya and is the owner of the U-T, got $298,996 for "advertising."

"We acknowledge that our success is the result of the effort of many throughout San Diego," says the symphony's website. "The San Diego media of course has played a pivotal role, but no other media outlet has gone above and beyond the call of duty more than U-T San Diego.

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The Symphony is much-improved from olden days of short seasons, small orchestras and sometimes even a shuttered hall. There have been good conductors over this period, but nothing works like financial resources and a home of one's own. Jahja Ling has done a good job building a strong organization that today plays in many configurations and venues other than the movie-theater-turned-music-hall where the best seats are only a few rows upstairs called the Grand Tier. Joan and Irwin Jacobs' largesse has made the Symphony what it is today -- stable, strong, and well-positioned to find another excellent exceedingly well-compensated maestro. Maybe San Diego will attract another Gustavo Dudamel.

Nov. 21, 2014

Hopefully it will be a Dudamel-quality conductor, rather than someone like that egomaniacal, arrogant and way-overpaid Ian Campbell (formerly with San Diego Opera).

Nov. 22, 2014

Financially, the symphony is in great condition. If it does nothing more than invest the lion's share of that $100 million-plus from Jacobs, it can run the concerts and programs at a loss indefinitely. That's spelled e-n-d-o-w-m-e-n-t. What we don't know is just how profitable or unprofitable the operation actually is. But for a long time to come, it will have a huge pile of money to use for whatever purposes its board might support.

Nov. 22, 2014

Who cares? Those who promote the Symphony do not live in the real world and as long as they don't get taxpayer money who cares?

Nov. 23, 2014

You're right, Alex, philistines don't care. But fortunately for the rest of us, the "real world" includes music played by symphony orchestras, and we're grateful to have a good one in San Diego.

Nov. 24, 2014

You're right, Alex, philistines don't care. But for many people, "the real world" includes live performance of symphonic music and it enriches their lives. We're fortunate to have a strong and stable orchestra in San Diego, fortunate to have the Jacobs' to support the arts in general and the San Diego Symphony in particular.

Nov. 24, 2014
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