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Flutist apologizes for departure, says he was misquoted

David Ng
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Mathieu Dufour

LOS ANGELES — The controversy surrounding the sudden departure of principal flutist Mathieu Dufour from the Los Angeles Philharmonic has taken another twist with an e-mail that the musician has sent to members of the orchestra in which he criticizes an article that appeared last week in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Dufour apologized to the orchestra members for his abrupt departure from Los Angeles, citing "personal circumstances" and the need to have shoulder surgery in February. The flutist wrote that he "felt it best to have the surgery in Chicago, and remain there during my recovery."

Earlier this month, Dufour — considered one of the preeminent flutists in the orchestral world — resumed his post with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He had joined the L.A. Phil in September on a one-year trial basis during which time he was allowed to hold positions with both orchestras.

Dufour's departure from Los Angeles, which was announced last week, comes only a few months into his contract with the L.A. Phil.

In the e-mail Wednesday, which was also forwarded to some members of the media, Dufour criticized an article that appeared last week in the Sun-Times. The article quoted the flutist as saying that musicians in L.A. "have no tradition there — no tradition of sound and no tradition of working together as a dedicated ensemble. Maybe they will have that someday in the future." He has declined repeated opportunities to speak to the Los Angeles Times.

Dufour claimed he was misquoted and attacked the article, saying: "I sincerely hope that none of you have read it, but if any of you have seen it, I beg you not to pay any attention to it."

He continued: "The Chicago reporters seem to like slanting every article to favor Chicago's orchestra, even if it makes everyone else look bad. I never said or thought any negative things about the LA Phil, in fact I feel quite the opposite."

Andrew Patner, who wrote the article for the Sun-Times, told The Times that he stands by his reporting. As of Sunday, the Sun-Times had not run a correction to the article.

"Mathieu Dufour is one of the world's great flutists and a great professional musician. Nothing that a newspaper writer or anyone else does or says over the years, good or bad, has (affected or will affect) his extraordinary playing," Patner wrote in a comment on a Los Angeles Times' blog.

"Great music making will always matter more than what any of us has to scribble about it, here or elsewhere."

Patner also serves as a critic for radio station WFMT-FM in Chicago. In the past, the radio station produced concerts for the CSO but no longer does, according to a spokeswoman for the station.

In the e-mail to L.A. Phil colleagues, Dufour, a French-born flutist, stated that the decision to return to Chicago was made by him and his fiancee.

"The decision to leave L.A. was extremely difficult for me, as I had a truly memorable and enjoyable time playing with all of you," he wrote to the orchestra.

"For me, the concerts we played together were a thrill and I was excited to be on board the new journey that the orchestra is taking with Gustavo Dudamel."

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