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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Enviros Say Maestro Muffed the Downbeat

MANHATTAN (CN) - Orchestral conductor Constantine Orbelian faked the flu and falsely claimed he had jury duty to get out of conducting a benefit concert in Geneva, Switzerland, an environmental group claims in New York County Court.

The Melody for Dialogue Among Civilizations says Orbelian, "an internationally acclaimed orchestra conductor and concert pianist," reneged on his agreement to conduct the "Debussy, but not only - Music for a green planet" concert, to "promote awareness ... for safeguarding the environment ... and to help raise money for the purchase and planting of trees around the globe."

Melody claims that Orbelian "was to be the headliner for the concert and was intended to be a primary draw for attendance."

After working out the contract with Orbelian, the group says, it recruited the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and an "international lineup of virtuosos" to be conducted by Orbelian.

Melody claims it booked five-star accommodations for Orbelian, bought him round-trip plane tickets from San Francisco, and printed his name on marketing and program materials. Then at the last minute, and after it had become clear that Orbelian had not adequately rehearsed the program, Orbelian reneged on his contract, first claiming to have jury duty in San Francisco that "conflicted with the concert and ... prevented him from traveling to ... Geneva," and then, 24 hours before he was to leave San Francisco he "claimed ... he had become ill and could not travel or perform," according to the complaint.

The show went on without Orbelian. Melody seeks $300,000 in damages for the "significant financial and reputational injury" it suffered. The group is represented by Richard Keck with MacMillan Keck.

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