Introduction


Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970.

Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and now the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.") While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Apollo Symphony Orchestra

Apollo Arts logo
"In 1981, as if by fate, a young conductor named Michael Goodwin moved to Northern California from Germany and learned of this desire of a group of people to form an orchestra ‘from scratch’."
[ed. - The Fellowship of Friends is well-practiced in rewriting its history. Michael Goodwin, a conductor with an established reputation, joined The Fellowship of Friends in Munich, Germany in 1979. It was no coincidence that he later moved to the Fellowship's headquarters to work on what was then called "the orchestra octave".

That it "evolved in a most unusual, yet natural way" is an interesting way of portraying the history. In addition to known musicians, Robert Burton directed some members with no musical experience whatsoever to learn to play an instrument. (This writer's assignment was the string bass, which was after two weeks handed off to a more willing participant.) 6/18: See Apollo Arts' impressive updated website.]

From the Apollo Symphony Orchestra website:
The Apollo Symphony Orchestra’s beginnings evolved in a most unusual, yet natural way, as all music does: it starts from the heart that yearns to be moved by beautiful music. This evolution started in 1977, when a group of people within a small community in Northern California, most of whom were non-professional musicians, wished to form an orchestra. Encouraging and inspiring these people was a professional musician [and Fellowship member] named Anna Gold who had early in her life established an international career as part of a three-sister trio within Russia. Although Anna, who was the pianist, left the stage to raise a family, her sister Zara Nelsova continued her career to great success. Pablo Casals once remarked about Zara: “There are only two great cellists performing today: myself and Zara Nelsova”.

Anna and Zara reached out to many famous friends to schedule a series of Chamber Concerts. The goal of this series was to educate as well as entertain. Among the artists who performed were the Beaux Arts Trio, the Guarneri Quartet, the Telluride Quartet and soloists such as Nicanor Zabaleta (harpist), Laszlo Varga (cellist), Jeffey Kahane (piano), and Richard Stolzman (clarinet). Vocalists also joined in this series such as Maureen Forrester (Canadian Contralto), Francesca Howe (Soprano) and Donna Peterson (Mezzo-soprano).

Although the desire to establish an orchestra remained, it lacked a dedicated conductor. In 1981, as if by fate, a young conductor named Michael Goodwin moved to Northern California from Germany and learned of this desire of a group of people to form an orchestra ‘from scratch’. He took on the task and established the orchestra’s concert schedule, and lent his skills to honing the talent of his musicians, often arranging Master Classes led by these famous guest performers. Within a few years, the Renaissance Orchestra (later changing its name to the Apollo Orchestra) was ready to perform Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with guest artist, Menahem Pressler, who was an early supporter of the orchestra’s formation.


Daniel Canosa first met Michael Goodwin through mutual friends while Michael was visiting Argentina in 1989 and an immediate friendship developed. Encouraged by Michael, Daniel moved to Northern California in 1990 and worked with the orchestra and chorus as regular guest conductor. He lent his expertise in Baroque music by founding the Apollo Baroque Orchestra, which performed a series of Bach cantatas and concerti using period instruments.

The 1990s was a very rich musical period for the Apollo Orchestra. Both Michael and Daniel collaborated on developing orchestra concerts with programs ranging from Baroque to Early 20th century. This included all of Beethoven’s Symphonies (except the 9th) and Mozart and Haydn’s late symphonies. Together they created the Summer Music Festival (1992-1998) with weekend performances that would open and close with orchestral works. Highlights included Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor with Alexander Romanul, violin, and Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor with guest pianist Menahem Pressler.

Daniel Canosa assumed the role of Music Director upon Michael Goodwin’s untimely death in February 2012. Today, the Apollo Symphony Orchestra is formed of professional musicians from the region, and its enthusiastic audience continues to grow in number.

[ed. - Whereas most websites affiliated with the Fellowship of Friends avoid mention of the organization, it's  commendable that the Apollo Arts page actually states the following. (Then again, it might be required under the law.)]
Apollo Arts is affiliated with the Fellowship of Friends | See our non-profit Guidestar listing

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