Letter from Adrian Muller

Posted on 10, Jun, 2015 in Uncategorized

To: Members of The Wagner Society


It is good to see that the Wagner Society Website offers the possibility for members to share their views on various topics with the membership.

My name is Adrian Mueller and although I am a new member, I have followed the business and events of the London Wagner Society for more than 10 years and feel therefore entitled to share my comments and views with other members of the Society.

For the avoidance of doubt I want to mention to members who do not already know, that I am the husband of Dame Gwyneth Jones and have of course my personal and emotional position regarding the ongoing actions of some of the committee, trying to force their President to resign.

Therefore I will try to confine myself to the facts.


I too have read the Constitution and Rules of the Society. They were always available on the old website of the Society and I am sure, they will be added to the new website in due course.

With regard to the letter of Ian Strange, I would like to offer my view on some points he raised:


He refers to the Constitution by saying:

“There is nothing outlining the role of the President, and nothing in the Rules giving the President any powers to run the Society or to try to overrule, countermand, or disrupt the operation of the Committee.”


I cannot see that the President did any of these things.

As he abstains from giving an example of what he is referring to, I can only assume that he refers to the fact that the President had asked the committee to give the membership a possibility to discuss and vote on the matter of the Bayreuth Bursary. In this case, I would like to state, that this is not at all against the Constitution and Rules. It is on the contrary covered by the Constitution and Rules. You will read in Bye-law 1, approved in a Committee Meeting of 11 October 2004, that any member wishing an item (no exclusion of any kind of item) to be discussed at an AGM or SGM, shall request the Secretary not less than 14 days before the date of the Meeting to put that item upon the Agenda.


He continues:

“Members will always disagree with some or all of the Committee’s decision, but the way forward on that is to stand for election to the Committee or to lobby Committee and other members. We, the members, expect the current Constitution of the Society to be followed.”


I do not dare to speak for “the members”. But on referring again to Bye-law 1 (11 October 2004) it is obvious that discussing, proposing and voting of items at an AGM is also a possible way forward in accordance with the constitution and is open to all members, including the President. To stand for election to the Committee is for the President no option as the Constitution states that only Vice-Presidents shall be eligible for election to the Committee.


Ian Strange: “The President also mentions that some of the Committee making recent decisions had not been elected – it is also quite normal and allowed under this and other societies’ Constitutions for a Committee to be filled by co-option, and this does not in any way bring into question that resultant Committee’s decisions.”


By reading the article again it should become obvious, that the President was in no way complaining that the co-opted Committee Members had voted, she rather corrected Richard Miles writing that she is an unelected President, whereas some members of the Committee are not yet elected by the membership. This does in no way affect their right to vote.


Ian Strange: “Finally the President states that, if the current Committee does decide to resign, she has the time available and would immediately elect another Committee together with the members. This is a remarkably unconstitutional suggestion. The Society is not hers to “elect a new Committee”.


Again: the quotation is correct but the conclusion is not.

“…together with the members” means she wishes that the whole membership, i.e. the whole Society should take part in the election. That is in accordance with the Constitution and leaves no room for interpretations like “The Society is not hers to “elect a new Committee”.


Ian Strange ends with: “I do therefore urge the President to abide by the Society’s Constitution and allow the Committee, elected by us, the members, to carry out their work.”


I would like to ask Ian Strange, to rethink his letter, considering my offered comments and views. If he then still thinks the accusations of some of the Committee towards the President, of wanting to run the Society and wanting to make executive decisions are based on substantive facts he should give chapter and verse of these facts to the membership, as should the Chairman and Secretary who have failed until today to give chapter and verse to their accusations against the President.


I also want to comment on the “Chairman’s note on the SGM” which is to be read on the Homepage of the Society and was also circulated by him to members by email.

The exact wording of the proposed and passed motion was “that the SGM would be adjourned and that the Committee and President and everyone else with interests are charged with coming up with a suggestion which is capable of being put to vote and is supported by 90% of the membership and this would involve a change of the constitution to define clearly the grey areas which are partly cause of what has been here today”.

One Member said with regards to the Constitution that it would be unfortunate to just set out a new Constitution and put it to the vote without having an open discussion by the members. He thought that was a part of the problem which the members faced at the SGM, that they only had a possibility to say yes or no. The Committee should come up with new Ideas for the Constitution but also a lot of the members will come up with Ideas for a new Constitution.

In his note of the SGM the Chairman says that it was also resolved that the proposed vote would be abandoned, and that those already submitted would not be counted. I must say that I find it remarkable to ignore this resolution by saying that “Emmanuelle Waters… estimates that on her unaudited count, the ratio of votes in favour of the Committee (Option 1) to those against (Option 2) was approximately 9:1, with a small number of abstentions.”

I want to remind the members that the votes of the ballot had been received, opened  and counted by a Committee Member before a scrutineer was involved, giving the Committee, as an involved party of the dispute, the possibility for manipulation. Also, if only 360 votes were received, the “small” number of abstentions would be over 600 based on the registered membership (996) at the end of 2012.

The announcement of this “result” is therefore in my opinion an attempt to wrongly influence opinion against the President.

With regard to the reasons given by Andrea Buchanan for her resignation I would like to say, that the President asked her twice to answer the question who the many winners of the Bayreuth Bursary were who had not sufficiently appreciated the prize of a trip to Bayreuth, as she (the President) had written to all the Singer Winners of the Bayreuth Bursary of the last 20 years and received only answers expressing their gratitude and praise for their visit to Bayreuth and wishing the Bayreuth Bursary to be continued.

In her determined question she did not use any rudeness nor was she insulting.

Recipients of the Secretary’s email of 19 June will know that she took a very active role in the attempt to Oust the President and it would not surprise me if her resignation would be an attempt to make members angry with the President as most members were not at the SGM and have not heard both sides of the story. In the end every member has to ask himself whether he wants to make a decision after hearing and questioning both sides or notespecially  as the President is in disadvantage regarding communication with the members as she has no access to their addresses. It is therefore essential that as many members as possible attend the AGM on 31st of July  and also any ensuing SGM’s.


Yours sincerely

Adrian Mueller