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Update: San Luis Obispo Symphony Conductor says he did not 'step down'

Flickr member Thor Liland Larsen

The former conductor of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Michael Nowak, said on Friday that he did "not step down" as was indicated in a press release by the organization on Thursday.

Nowak spent the past 31 years with the symphony as its Music Director.  He told KCBX that his time with the symphony has been a privilege for him.

Carol Kersten is the Youth Symphony Conductor and has worked closely with Nowak for years. She said he has elevated the quality of the program.

"Mike has been the vision of the orchestra," said Kersten. "He's brought it from a group of musicians wanting to play together and struggling, and having some success, to a much higher level than we could have been. You know, we're more than the sum of our parts and now I feel like our main part has been taken away."

Kersten said there are tough decisions to be made when leading an orchestra, and when it came to budget matters Nowak always came down on the side of education for local youth. She said she appreciated that about him. 

KCBX has repeatedly reached out to the Symphony for clarification on Thursday's release. Executive Director Edmund Feingold, who initially sent the message, said in an email that he's "unable to comment on the matter."

To this point, there has been no official reason given for Nowak's departure, nor has there been a description of how the decision was made.

The press release stated that Nowak "has left his position" and praised the former music director for his years with the organization. “In his 31 years with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Michael has had a profound impact in building both a renowned orchestra and a prized community asset,” current President of the Board of Directors India D'Avignon said in the release.

According to the symphony, all programs will proceed as planned with the help of guest conductors while the organization searches for a new music director.

The San Luis Obispo Symphony organization includes the Symphony Orchestra, the Youth Symphony and various music education programs.

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