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Huddersfield Phil's Conductor Walks Out Over 'Disrespectful' Musician

The principal conductor of Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra has walked out and is refusing to return unless one of her 'disrespectful' musicians is removed.

Natalia Luis-Bassa, who has worked with the orchestra for seven years, declared that her health was beginning to suffer as certain members increasingly questioned her judgment.

She walked out of a rehearsal on Saturday afternoon and did not return, forcing three members to step in and take over the baton at a concert that evening at Huddersfield Town Hall.

Ms Luis-Bassa, 44, said that at least one member of the orchestra would have to be removed before she would consider returning.

She said: “There are a lot of conditions that need to be met if I go back.

"There are members who disrespect me as a person, a conductor and music-maker.

“There is one person in particular and if this person is not removed I am not willing to go back. My health comes first."

The high profile Venezuelan conductor, who is also musical director of the Haffner Orchestra in Lancaster and the Hallam Sinfonia in Sheffield, insisted that she was not being irrational but that she was not getting enough support.

She stressed: "This is the first time I have ever done anything like this in 25 years of conducting. I am not letting the orchestra down. It needs a shake-up."

Her assistant, Veronica Urrego, suggested that the problems had begun four years ago.

She told the Daily Telegraph: “It has got to the limit.

“This is the only way that they might wake up and listen. Things have been getting worse and worse over four years.

“It’s people who have been there since the beginning of her tenure who do not respect her and are questioning the professional that she is.”

It is understood that Peter Lewis, the president of the orchestra, has spoken to Ms Luis-Bassa about the problems but nothing has yet been resolved.

He said: "These things happen and I'm yet to get to the bottom of why it happened. Hopefully we will get it sorted.

“Natalia has been with us for seven years now and is a star."

Mr Lewis took to the stage on Saturday night to explain that his principal conductor was “indisposed”.

Ms Luis-Bassa began her musical studies at the age of 15 when she studied oboe at Venezuala’s El Sistema and went on to become the first person to obtain a degree in Orchestral Conducting in her native country.

She completed her studies at the Royal College of Music in London and held the RCM Junior Fellowship in Opera Conducting for two years.

Since winning the second prize at the Maazel-Vilar Conductor’s Competition in New York in 2002, she has worked both in the UK and abroad with orchestras including the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela, Orquesta Sinfónica Simon Bolívar de Venezuela, Orquesta Filarmónica Nacional, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Paragon Ensemble, Bombay Chamber Orchestra and Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra.

She holds a master's degree from the University of Huddersfield, where she lectures for part of the year, and has also been appointed a professor of conducting at the Royal College of Music.

She was recently awarded the Elgar Society Prize for the performance of Elgar's Second Symphony which she conducted with Huddersfield Philharmonic.

In August 2008, Ms Luis-Bassa appeared in Maestro, the BBC Two talent show, as a mentor to David Soul, the Starsky and Hutch actor.