Updated: Dallas Symphony Orchestra kicks volunteer Jose Reyes to the curb in bizarre press release


Our staff was in the middle of production on FD Luxe’s annual August Hot Issue yesterday when a hot diss landed in our inboxes. The odd email was from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra manager of publications and public relations, Chris Shull:

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra would like to inform its sponsors and media partners that as of July 9, 2013 Jose Reyes is no longer affiliated as a volunteer with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra or with any of its volunteer organizations and/or organizing committees.  

Thank you.”

   Jose Reyes at the Races Derby Party at Lee Park, May 5, 2012.                    FD Luxe Jonathan Zizzo

Jose Reyes at the Races Derby Party at Lee Park, May 5, 2012. FD Luxe Jonathan Zizzo

What? No one on our staff can recall ever receiving a press release from a Dallas organization disavowing a volunteer. This was strange.

You may know Reyes. He’s the soft-spoken man in the suit, at every single social function you’ve ever attended in Dallas. He’s the first to remember your name, eager to compliment your outfit and polite enough to overlook the recent work you’ve had done on your face. Yes, that Jose. He has a corporate job, but seems to really live for groups such as The Fashionistas and, most recently, the DSO. Until now.

When we asked Chris Shull for clarification, he replied via email that “We just felt he wasn’t the best fit with the DSO moving toward the 2013 gala in September.”

We reached out to Jose and he sent a lengthy reply last night. If we get permission, we’ll post his response.

Be prepared to read between the lines on both sides.


UPDATE: 9:33 P.M.

Permission granted.

“Hi Christopher,

It’s great to hear from you.  I was contacted by the new Vice President of Development, Jenny Shepard, and was told that I was no longer welcome as a volunteer at the DSO because I ‘overstep my boundaries’ in dealing with the media, which is absurd.
As you know as a member of the media yourself, I have never done anything but invite the press to our events so that they can cover the events for their respective publications.  That’s it.  That’s all.  Apparently, this rubs them the wrong way because they feel that they are losing control of the situation.
Apparently, the PR Department at the DSO feels slighted because I have a more effective approach than their own, and as a result of making them look bad, they are trying to get rid of me altogether.  This is really as slap in the face, after all I have done for them over the past ten years.  It is their loss.
This is all news to me, as I have not been doing anything differently than I have for the past ten years.  This is the thanks I get for supporting the DSO.  This is how they treat their volunteer and donor base, which is a shame.  Out of respect for the DSO as an institution, I have keep quiet all of these years.  But I wish more people knew what it is actually like behind the scenes over there.  They are a miserable bunch and a nightmare to work with.
As evidenced by their extremely high turnover rate in leadership positions on staff at the DSO, their management in dealing with their volunteer and donor base is in shambles.  This is how they treat people.  This is how they operate.
Regards, Jose”

UPDATE: 3:11 p.m. Friday

In a phone call to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra offices, spokesperson Chris Shull says the DSO has “No comment” on Reyes’ email.

UPDATE: 10:30 a.m. August 26

D Magazine society scribe Jeanne Prejean digs deeper into this mess with ‘The Party Crasher Who Duped Dallas Society: How Jose Reyes, a man of meager means and a mysterious past, charmed and then ran afoul of the Dallas Symphony leadership’  It’s a juicy read with quite the surprise ending.

UPDATE: 9:30 p.m. August 26

Reyes just forwarded an email to us that he sent to D‘s former editor, Tim Rogers, and Prejean. We’ll let them hash out the rebuttals if they choose to, but basically Reyes denies he’s a freeloading party crasher. (He even takes a swipe at Dallas socialite Yvonne Crum.) According to Reyes: “I can continue to go about in polite society and hold my head up high knowing that I did not do anything wrong.”

Oh, and he ends the letter on this icy note: “My mother always said, ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’ Regards, Jose”

UPDATE: 2:20 p.m. September 12

Reyes apparently gets his revenge. 

UPDATE: 11:58 a.m. July 11

The DMN‘s Robert Wilonsky files this: “Ousted Dallas Symphony Orchestra volunteer Jose Reyes sues DSO and D Magazine for defamation”

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  1. Given how the DSO treats its subscribers I am not sure I am surprised by how they treat their volunteers. Its becoming tired over there quickly. This is another brilliant customer service move I am sure.

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  3. Possible inflated EGO’s at work here,…oh well. Sense of entitlement issues as well. No wonder Jaap Van Sweden is leaving,…Dallas has a tough residential crowd to please and it has always been that way since the 1960’s though today. Sad to hear this,……just move forwards, onwards and upwards and stay positive! We will get there folks. :)

  4. I want to know DSO’s side of the story. Such groups rely heavily on volunteers and the community for their financial support. This is NOT good.

  5. What is the POINT in sending out that awful email to begin with. DSO, way to keep things professional. I follow Arts news pretty closely and have never heard of Jose Reyes so I think their concerns are overblown.

  6. I know there’s two sides to every story and I can see that they would be concerned if he was representing himself outside his official capacity but a mass email? That’s kind of tacky and unprofessional. Every organization I’ve ever volunteered with included guidelines about behaviors like that but if you broke the guidelines they would speak to you about it, not kick you out and contact everyone on a distribution list…

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  8. By the way, I found this article through a National Arts Blog, so the DSO’s decision to publicly shame a long-term volunteer, must be considered very unusual. I know Jose Reyes. I know him to be passionate about the causes that he becomes involved in. He’s a hard worker, and a progressive thinker, and sometimes buttoned-up staff-members may not be ready for what he has to offer… so he works within the given parameters, helps grow an initiative, giving tons of time, and often bringing with him other energetic volunteers, as well as corporate sponsorships. Perhaps his ten years of volunteer service may have run its course, and the DSO wanted to go another direction. I cannot imagine a situation where this man might “go rogue,” or disparage the organization in a way that would require this type of aggressive, public statement to be made. It’s in bad taste, aggressive, and cold… I applaud FD Luxe for reaching out to Mr. Reyes for his side to the story. I know that we have a philanthropist and cultural leader who will continue his work elsewhere in Dallas, so it’s the DSO;s loss, and this publicity campaign was handled very poorly, in my opinion,.

  9. Mr. Vandeveerdonk, Jaap van Zweden is NOT leaving. He’s adding the Hong Kong Philharmonic to his schedule, but most conductors these days have at least two different orchestras.

  10. The supporters of The Dallas Arts District come in very few breeds. 1st you have the Philanthropists. This elite group of millionaires represents over half of all ‘donor giving’. We all know the names, Schlegel, Rachofsky, Sewell, Perot, McDermott (not in any order:). Next you have the volunteers. These hard working Type A’s assist with donor campaigns, work as board members providing financial and intellectual support, and through hard labor, always bettering the institutions they respect. Finally, there are the social climbers. They give just enough to get into the BIG event and rub shoulders with the Elite. They pretend to volunteer ever mindful of the PR presence, the camera, and the “show”.
    Jose Reyes is a social climber. He has snuck into BIG events he was banned from praying to be in the rags, to be caught on camera hugging a celebutant, to get to whisper creepy details about one strangers personal life to another stranger and think himself connected. Now, he has been cast out and I hope this represents a turning point for the Symphony, like when the pretty girl dumps the loser cause she realizes she can do better. Well DSO you can, and as far as Jose is concerned, this is your 15 minutes, use it wisely…

  11. Dear Asmodet. I don’t know what kind of pills you are on, but I wish you wouldn’t take so many. The DSO got exactly what they deserve. Now they have been exposed to the public for what they are really like, and I was more than happy to blow the whistle on them. As for being a social climber, it takes one to know one… Regards, Jose

  12. I grew up in Dallas and read this story with some interest. This may be a stretch, but here goes…… It sounds to me like Mr. Reyes probably slept with some of the phony Dallas socialites, and then they were incensed when they found out he wasn’t really a wealthy man (works in a call center). So they engineered his downfall. I laughed my head off when I read this article in D magazine. Dallas socialites are so shallow and useless.