Ottawa Chamber Music Festival artistic director quits

Julian Armour, founder and artistic director of the world's largest chamber music festival, resigned suddenly Tuesday.

The founder and artistic director of Ottawa's Chamber Music Festival resigned suddenly Tuesday.

Julian Armour, who started the festival in 1994 and helped build it into the world's largest during his 13 years as artistic director, blamed differences in vision between himself and the board of directors of the Ottawa Chamber Music Society, which runs the festival.
Julian Armour, shown here in February, said his resignation was prompted by the "huge gulf" between his vision and that of the Ottawa Chamber Music Society's board of directors. ((CBC))

"It was a very, very tough decision to leave this," Armour told CBC Tuesday. "But it speaks to the fact that there's just a huge gulf between how I think things should be done and how they're being done and where things are going."

Board president and chair Colin Cooke agreed that Armour and the board no longer saw eye-to-eye and confirmed the board had reluctantly accepted Armour's resignation.

"We certainly would not suggest that it is going to be an easy thing to move forward … but we are confident because of the enthusiastic support of this festival," Cooke said.

He added the society will continue Armour's push for an Ottawa concert hall.

Meanwhile, Ottawa arts community leaders such as Catherine O'Grady said they were stunned by Armour's departure.

"People who went to the chamber festival went because of Julian's vision— not because of a board vision," said O'Grady, executive producer of the Ottawa Jazz Festival.

"The role of the board is to support the vision of the artistic director and it's not the other way around."

This year's festival is scheduled for July 21 to Aug. 4.

Last year's festival featured 120 concerts by 240 musicians. The2005 event drew more than 62,000 people.