David Fleshler’s comments in his Oct. 20 article, Growing its talent despite challenges, on the founder of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, my late father, Maestro Manuel Ochoa, were downright disrespectful. Anyone who knew my father would find Fleshler’s derisive characterizations far from the man who was a passionate and professional musician who dedicated his life to bringing classical music to South Florida.
Despite many mean-spirited reviews, the Miami Symphony Orchestra persevered with a supportive audience and support from local governments, including Miami-Dade County, local business leaders and, of course, the public. The article makes no mention of my father’s extensive studies in Europe and mistakenly says that he left pre-Castro Cuba when, in fact, he left in 1966.
There’s also no mention of the positive reviews from Daniel Fernandez of El Nuevo Herald nor does it highlight any of the positive comments from Bernard Holland’s review regarding the Carnegie Hall concert, which was no embarrassment as purported in the article. The writer never bothered to mention that Maestro Ochoa was invited to conduct in Vienna and Rome, and in Brazil and Peru during his tenure as conductor. The biggest oversight, however, was that Fleshler did not interview my mother, Sofia Ochoa, who was fully involved in the day-to-day administration of the orchestra.
I am sure my father would have found some fault with some of his performances because he was his own worst critic. But he did the best he could with limited rehearsals and resources. This, by no means, makes him a hack, as Fleshler insinuates in the article.
Musical quality is debatable and, perhaps, better left to the experts, but there was no mention of the many sacrifices my father made for his art and his dedication to the community.
Although I’m glad the Miami Symphony still endures, I’m saddened that this occasion was used to make unfair and erroneous characterizations of my father. Rather than just dismiss this letter as a son’s attempt to defend his father, I invite readers to view a WLRN interview posted on the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection’s blog site, library.miami.edu/chc/tag/cuban-musicians/, so they can judge the article for themselves.
Manuel T. Ochoa, Jr.,
Chevy Chase, Md.