Burt Hara, the principal clarinetist, has resigned from the Minnesota Orchestra. Hara had led the clarinet section in Minnesota since 1987 until he took a position as associate principal with the Los Angeles Philharmonic last May. He grew up in California.
Orchestra musicians apply for a year's leave of absence when they go to another ensemble, in case they wish to return. For example, Hara took a position as principal with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1996 and returned to Minnesota after a year.
Hara, 51, had requested, and was granted, a one-year extension from Minnesota in February. He told the orchestra at the time that he expected to make a decision sooner than 2015. He notified the orchestra this week and the players were informed on Thursday.
When he took the L.A. position last May, Hara said he was looking forward to working with conductor Gustavo Dudamel, the charismatic leader of the Philharmonic. "It's time to look to the next chapter," he said at the time.
In a letter to musicians, Hara said he decided not to return because he believes "the current leadership does not have the vision to restore the Orchestra to its place among the great orchestras of the world."
In a statement, the orchestra said: "Burt Hara is an outstanding clarinetist and we thank him for his many years of service and contributions in Minnesota. He will be greatly missed. We wish him and his family the very best on their new lives in southern California."
Orchestra spokesperson Gwen Pappas said that of eight musicians who requested leaves of absence in 2012-13, four have elected to return to the orchestra -- Ken Freed, David Pharris, Robert Dorer and Tim Zavadil. Three still have time left on their leaves -- Tom Turner, Michael Gast and Peter McGuire. Gina diBello resigned to take a position with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Stephanie Arado left outright for a teaching position at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.