Almost 30 years ago, I began working with the DaPonte String Quartet to secure the Chamber Music Rural Residency Award from the National Endowment for the Arts that brought the quartet to Maine permanently. The original program, and what followed, represented countless hours of hard work by many dedicated volunteers who were committed to bringing cultural and musical diversity to the Midcoast. While the first few years were tough and the project seemed tenuous at times, it succeeded far beyond what the former “Friends” can possibly imagine.

Now those so-called Friends (May 13) appear intent on kneecapping four musicians and their families, in spite of all that the DaPonte String Quartet has done to establish chamber music as a vibrant part of Maine’s culture. The repurposed Friends group thinks it can create a new and more diverse vision of chamber music in Maine. That’s ironic, since the Friends are primarily a group of elite, older whites, who seem clueless about what it takes to sustain diversity, equity and inclusion anywhere, let alone in a place like Maine.

Apparently, it hasn’t occurred to the Friends that many of their donors contribute for the sake of the DaPonte String Quartet and not for whatever other vision the board might develop. A substantial fraction of those contributors aren’t going to support the new vision and will redirect their donations. Rather than charting a course to a better future for everyone, the captain, Erica Ball, is heading toward the rocks, where her vessel is going to sink.

Gary M. King
Baton Rouge, La.

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