Sour note. San Francisco Symphony Choral boss quits over vaccine “diktat”

The Swedish director of the San Francisco Symphony Choral is leaving town.

Ragnar Bohlin calls San Francisco’s mandated vaccine policy a “diktat”.

Definition of diktat
1 : a harsh settlement unilaterally imposed (as on a defeated nation)

Given the fact San Francisco has one of the highest rates of people taking the vaccine and one of the lowest rates of infection in the world Mr. Bohlin’s critique seems harsh. A more apt obseravation is that San Francisco is doing what needs to be done to mitigate the danger to its citizens during the Pandemic.

I hope Mr. Bohlin is happy in his new position as an organist back home in Sweden while awaiting for the clinical tests to be complete in 2022 or 2023.

Excerpted from The San Francisco Chronicle 8.20.2021

San Francisco Symphony Choral Director Ragnar Bohlin is resigning because of vaccine mandate policies instituted by both the company and the city of San Francisco, the Symphony announced Friday, Aug. 20. His term concludes at the end of the month, ending a 14-year tenure.

Bohlin has been outspoken about his anti-vaccination views on his Facebook page over the course of the pandemic; in the 24 hours before his exit was announced, he shared at least eight anti-vaccine posts.

Symphony spokesperson Robin Freeman confirmed that the reason for Bohlin’s departure was the vaccine mandate. In the Bay Area arts world, Bohlin’s is the first prominent resignation over vaccine mandates.

“I have with a growing sense of alarm observed the tide turn in this direction, in regards to medical passports,” Bohlin wrote to The Chronicle from Sweden, while on a night train to Stockholm. “I am sad to now see the SFS comply with these diktats and to deprive their employees their basic rights to privacy, bodily autonomy and informed consent.”

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“I deeply regret that I feel compelled to leave the SFS and my beloved Chorus because of this,” Bohlin said. He added that he has no plans to get a vaccine at least until clinical trials scheduled for 2022 and 2023 are complete.

On Aug. 3, the Symphony announced a vaccine mandate for audience members. On Aug. 12, San Francisco city officials introduced a mandate for indoor venues that seat more than 1,000 — which includes Davies Symphony Hall — applying the policy to anyone who enters, including workers and volunteers.

“He is a gifted and expressive musician and has led the San Francisco Symphony Chorus through countless artistic achievements and memorable performances,” Symphony Interim CEO Matthew Spivey said in a statement.

Indeed, Bohlin’s work with the Symphony on a recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 won a 2010 Grammy for best choral performance.

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“He will be greatly missed, and we wish him well as he embarks on his next chapter,” Spivey added.

Bohlin said he has secured an organist position in Sweden and that he will be guest-conducting the Ericson Chamber Choir there in December. He hopes to return to San Francisco to work with his a cappella group, Cappella SF, in the future.