ENCINITAS —The iPalpiti Festival, an international classical music event, is leaving the city of Encinitas and suspending the popular Music by the Sea event due to alleged mistreatment of program organizers and musicians by the city’s staff and newly-appointed arts administrator.
Director Laura Schmieder informed city leaders the iPalpiti Artists International nonprofit is officially terminating its 10-year run citing a number of grievances in a Sept. 1 letter addressed to Mayor Catherine Blakespear, City Manager Pamela Antil, Arts and Culture Manager Travis Karlen and Encinitas Friends of the Arts.
“As much as it has been a joyful experience for nine years, after this 10th ‘celebration,’ iPalpiti made the decision not to return to Encinitas,” Schmieder wrote.
Schmieder opened her letter by calling attention to the nine “joyful” years of including the city in the annual event, which held its 25th event the weekend of July 14 at the Encinitas Library.
However, Schmeider said that a change in leadership and “unwelcome” treatment by staff as “a summer camp nuisance” led to the decision to leave.
In the letter, Schmieder accused Collette Murphy, the city’s new arts administrator, of mistreating organizers and musicians, altering the artists’ lineup and skewing contest winners.
“Never before musicians felt more unwelcomed, with zero understanding of artistic accommodations,” Schmieder wrote.
Murphy took over the city’s top arts spot following the sudden departure of longtime arts director Jim Gilliam amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2012, Gilliam, a member of the Consortium of Southern California Chamber Music Presenters who regularly attended the Beverly Hills National Auditions (BHNA), founded the city’s Music by the Sea series, which featured performances by award-winning musicians at the Encinitas Library.
“…with Jim Gilliam’s knowledge and appreciation of music and performing arts, he has sought — and succeeded — to establish a professional, year-round concert series,” Schmeider said.
As part of her role as chair of the BHNA and Southern California consortium, Schmieder helped curate the artist and performance lineups for the upcoming concert seasons. According to Schmeider, after the current season’s list was finalized, Murphy “arbitrarily” unselected “legitimate winners” and replaced others with “artists of her own choice.”
Schmeider also alleges Murphy requested changing January’s performer based solely on her “personal dislike of the artist.”
“To this day, (Murphy) did not take the time or courtesy to consult with me,” Schmeider wrote. “By her disregard of the audition committee decision, ad changing the artists to ‘her’ liking, Music by the Sea is suspended from the membership in the Consortium.”
Schmieder is also stepping back from her direction of Music by the Sea.
“I have been in the professional classical field for over 40 years, as faculty of renowned institutions and festivals, as artistic director in numerous endeavors, consultant and adjudicator but I no longer can associate my name with Music by the Sea,” Schmeider wrote.
The city of Encinitas and Schmeider did not respond for comment in time for publication, but a response is anticipated.