Some believe that those who have spoken against changes have been forced out.
“You can’t believe anything they say,” said violinist Clayton Hoener, president of the faculty union, of Longy’s leaders.
Others believe Zorn has stabilized Longy.
“Karen came in, she rescued the school from bankruptcy and realized she had to pare down,” said Anna Gabrieli, a voice teacher for 15 years. “Some of these teachers, they’ve been so vitriolic and difficult.”
Just last year, Zorn and Bard president Botstein finalized plans to merge the two schools. That’s led many to believe Botstein, a conductor and educator, is driving the decision.
“Longy just gave the school to Bard,” said Warren Zapol, the former Mass. General anesthesiology chief. “It’s a takeover by another institution, no matter what they say.”
Under the terms of the merger, Longy is now part of Bard, though Botstein and Zorn said that is to encourage creative partnerships and Longy maintains its financial and administrative independence.
“We had no role in the decision” to cut the preparatory programs, Botstein said. He said he is disappointed by the attacks on Zorn and Longy.
“Am I upset by people believing fictions? Yeah,” he said. “That’s the same problem with people believing evolution isn’t true. There is a truth, and there is fiction. And the truth is that Longy runs autonomously. We never took them over.”
As Zorn stresses, the issue isn’t only about space and money. Longy, she said, wants its program to distinguish itself by focusing on training musicians to work in underserved communities. Longy has students working in schools in Dorchester, Somerville, Brighton, and Cambridge.
Other area music schools, she said, can offer more general education: NEC, South Shore Conservatory, Suzuki School of Newton, Concord Conservatory of Music, and New School of Music in Cambridge.
Alyssa Lee, executive director of the New School, said calls began to come in after Longy’s announcement. Her board has met to discuss how many children can be accommodated.
“It’s a huge loss for the community,” said Lee.
Geoff Edgers can be reached at email@example.com.