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A late-night debate over the fate of this city's ousted symphony conductor has concluded he should not get his job back. The announcement late Thursday followed a five-hour meeting of the 17-member symphony board to decide whether to reinstate Martin Fischer-Dieskau.

A news release said board members "exercised a contractual right to release him from the contract" six months early. "The decision needed to be made by the board who are voted in by members of the [symphony]association and hold this organization in trust for the public," board chairman Ken Murray said in the release.

"It was a very, very long meeting and the decision was very difficult," said board member Ron Dunkley. Two board members resigned and walked out of the meeting.

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Fischer-Dieskau, 48, left the city after the meeting and wasn't available for comment.

He was in good spirits when he arrived for the meeting, where he was met by about 75 cheering supporters. The conductor, who flew in from Berlin at the board's expense to attend the meeting, hugged supporters as he arrived. "I would just like to continue and be part of this great symphony for a long time," he said, pumping his fist in the air.

Before the closed meeting, supporters presented the board with 400 e-mails demanding the conductor be allowed to complete his three-year contract, which was terminated Nov. 27. About 9,000 people subscribe to the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

"To treat a world-class conductor that shabbily is just unprincipled," said Doug Leask of Waterloo, a regular symphony supporter.

Fischer-Dieskau, who lives in Berlin where he is a conductor and professor, has been commuting between that city and Kitchener.

In terminating the contract, board members cited a difference of artistic vision. Fischer-Dieskau wanted to take musicians on a tour of Germany, while board members -- worried about the cost -- wanted them to focus their time and energy on the community and contracted symphony commitments. The conductor said he had an anonymous donor willing to cover all tour costs.

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