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Music critic Melinda Bargreen takes buyout at The Seattle Times

After 31 years as classical music critic at The Seattle Times, Melinda Bargreen has decided to take a buyout offer. She may return, after some months, as a freelance music critic, and says she’ll continue to write book reviews at the paper. Bargreen has been a reliably enthusiastic critic, particularly of the Symphony, Opera, and Seattle Chamber Music Society performances. A pianist, she also provided extensive and informed coverage of concert pianists. She has many close friends in music, extending back to her days at the University of Washington School of Music.

Here’s the letter she sent around to friends and colleagues:

Dear Friends:

This is a letter I did not expect to write so soon, but after May 5, I will no longer be The Seattle Times’ music critic after 31 years in this job.

All of you know that this is a tough time for newspapers in general, and The Seattle Times in particular. The Times has taken the necessary decision to terminate several employees, and to offer severance packages to several others. I fall into the second category, of those who are eligible to leave because their positions are considered expendable (i.e. they would not have to be replaced if they left).

I have nothing but good will toward The Seattle Times, and I am leaving on very amicable terms. According to IRS requirements, I can’t do music freelancing (i.e. continue doing what I’m doing, but on a freelance basis) for several months, but I will be able to do so later on. I can continue to review books for the newspaper.

What I will miss — terribly — is working with all of you, and hearing the great concerts and operas and recordings that you’ve all made it possible for me to review. Who could be more blessed than to live in Seattle with the fine music and fascinating musical personalities that have surrounded me here?

Because I was presented with this career decision less than a week ago, I am still considering my future options. I’d love to find a way to continue to review music as a freelancer, perhaps on the internet, because the thought of going without the “Ring” and the chamber music and the orchestral gems is hard to imagine. I also am investigating college teaching, performing-arts consulting, and related fields.

But as things go forward, I want each of you to know how grateful I am to have had such wonderful people to work with, and I hope that this is merely “au revoir” and not goodbye.

With all best wishes to each of you,

Melinda Bargreen

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