PASADENA - Jorge Mester is resigning as the Pasadena Symphony's long-time director.
He apparently refused to take a major pay cut, the Pasadena Star-News reported. Citing "serious financial difficulties" at the Pasadena Symphony and POPS, the organization had no choice but to let go of Mester, who has been with the symphony for 25 years, Paul Zdunek, the chief executive of the organization, said in a statement.
Mester will take the baton for the last time at tonight's All-Beethoven concert. The performance will be the last one in the Pasadena Symphony's longtime home, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, as it prepares to move into the smaller Ambassador Auditorium.
"It's just such a tight community ... that's why it is so emotional," Polly Sweeney, a former violinist for the symphony who now works as the personnel manager with the group, told the Pasadena Star-News. "It's a big loss for all of us."
The symphony will not perform again until October, and it will likely employ guest conductors while looking for a replacement for Mester, who made about $235,000 in 2007, according to the most current available public records examined by the Star-News.
"They can can find someone cheaper, but not somebody world-class like Mester," Jerry Kohl, a former board member for the Pasadena Symphony, told the newspaper. "For peanuts, you get monkeys."
The financial trouble goes back several years. In 2007, both the Pasadena Symphony and the POPS merged after both organizations faced financial difficulties.