Tag Archives: orchestra

Los Angeles Philharmonic Receives $20 Million

The Los Angeles Philharmonic will receive $20 million from technology entrepreneur and philanthropist David Bohnett. The gift is the second largest in the orchestra’s history. It was made in honor of Los Angeles Philharmonic President and CEO Deborah Borda. Half of the gift, $10 million, will be used to endow the presidential chair, and the other half will be used to launch the David C. Bohnett Presidential Fund for Innovation and Discovery, which will help the orchestra explore ideas for engagement of new audiences.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra Achieves Another Surplus

For the second year in a row, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) ended its fiscal year in the black, with a small surplus of $60,000. Subscription numbers increased across all series, with a total of 13,760 subscriptions sold. Overall ticket sales increased as well, with revenue $200,000 higher than last season.

“We are pleased with the financial as well as artistic integrity of our DSO,” says Local 5 (Detroit, MI) President George Troia. On the fundraising side, the number of people who donated to the orchestra grew, and those individual donors gave a total of $5.4 million. Market appreciation and new gifts raised the endowment by $10 million, to $38.6 million.

DSO remains committed to audience engagement, with its live webcasts reaching an international audience of more than 500,000 people, more than any orchestra in the world. Its education program serves more than 20,000 children in Detroit. It will be expanded into seven suburban communities next season through the support of Clyde and Helen Wu. The program will be renamed the Wu Family Academy for Learning and Engagement.

At its annual meeting in December, DSO announced that Music Director Leonard Slatkin and President and CEO Anne Parsons have renewed their contracts through the 2016-2017 season.

Cleveland Orchestra in the Black

In fiscal year 2014, The Cleveland Orchestra was in the black for the first time since 2001, with a $1 million surplus on its $47.8 million budget.

The orchestra saw improved audience numbers in the 2013-2014 season, including a slight increase at its main series at Severance Hall and a dramatic 11% increase at Blossom Music Center, which was attributed to a Beatles tribute concert, an appearance by Yo-Yo Ma of Local 802 (New York City), and a free concert night. Throughout the season, 200 people took advantage of The Cleveland Orchestra’s new program admitting patrons 18 and under for free.

The endowment grew by $22 million, to a total of $172 million, the highest level it has ever reached. Annual fund gifts totaled $10.6 million, also a record high.

In order to close the gap between revenue and expenses, The Cleveland Orchestra embarked on a special fundraising campaign, which succeeded in raising $8.4 million. It hopes to eliminate the need for special fundraising in the current season.

Minnesota Orchestra Hires Executive Director

The Minnesota Orchestra has announced the hiring of Kevin Smith as President and CEO. Smith was named interim executive director after the orchestra’s previous CEO, Michael Henson, stepped down in August, in the aftermath of the 16-month musician lockout. Previously, Smith was executive director of the Minnesota Opera.

The board, overwhelmingly impressed with Smith’s work, offered him the position through the 2017-2018 season. During the interim period, Smith faced the great challenge of repairing internal trust following the bitter lockout. He has built strong relationships with all constituencies of the organization and the musicians are pleased that he will take on the position.

He has made progress in restoring the orchestra’s financial health, as well; the organization expects its deficit for fiscal year 2014 to be under $1 million.

The Senior Concert Orchestra of New York Returns

The Senior Concert Orchestra of New York returns! It’s always sad when a musical organization no longer has the funds to perform, and that’s why it is ­great news to hear the Senior Concert Orchestra has made a return. This is in thanks to the Music Performance Trust Fund and the Lortel Foundation for supporting the Orchestra.

The MPTF recently hired Dan Beck, a veteran music executive, songwriter and manager. It is with his lead, and the rest of the staff at the MPTF, that made the organization a supporter of the arts by awarding grants to worthy causes such as the Senior Concert Orchestra, which had to leave Carnegie Hall six years ago due to lack of funding. Not surprisingly, Carnegie Hall is one of the most expensive places to perform in The City. They will be one of the first recipients to receive this grant in 2014.

The Senior Concert Orchestra is headed by 84-year-old Gino Smbuco who is a retired violinist with the NY Philharmonic. He fought for a year to get the Orchestra back at Carnegie Hall and with the grant from the Lortel Foundation they were close to accomplishing that goal. It was Dan Beck heading the MPTF that gave them the final push.

The symphony is comprised of players in their 90s, 80s, and 70s with the old musicians being 98-years-old! The rest of the symphony is comprised of local 802 (New York City). Many attended Juilliard and have impressive resumes playing for the Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and City Opera. It’s a diverse group of gender and ethnicities that all have two things in common: they are in their senior years and they love music.

The show is set for November 16 at 3 PM.

Kevin Smith New Minnesota Orchestra President

It was only a year ago that the Minnesota Orchestra was locked out, but with a new hire they are getting back into the swing of things. Kevin Smith – currently the interim president and CEO – agreed to stay on through the 2017-18 season as the official Minnesota Orchestra president.

Smith took over from Michael Henson, the former CEO who became the main target and criticism for many issues in the organization. The board was searching for a new president, and Smith wasn’t even in the running. However, he turned out to be so extraordinary the board asked him to remain in his position.

“It was not in my original plan, but I thought: Why not, it’ll be an adventure,” Smith commented.

Board Chairman Gordon Sprenger said, “Kevin exceeded my expectations and we felt that if there was anyone who could help us find solutions, this was the guy right now.”

Smith has to deal with new contract talks with the musicians whose deal ends in 2017, and music director Osmo Vänskä. While Smith said he enjoyed working with Vänskä, it is the board’s decision whether he stays or goes.

Either way, it sounds like Smith is working hard for the orchestra.

“We want to start sooner rather than later with the musicians.” He said, “We need to have a clear financial picture moving forward to show what we can offer. They know that, we know that.”

Principal cellist Anthony Ross said in a statement regarding Smith’s hiring that “the musicians are delighted.”

This all sounds like good news for an orchestra that hasn’t been having the best time recently. Hopefully, things will only improve from here on.

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra President Resigns; Lockout Continues: UPDATE

The lockout of the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) continues, as the Woodruff Arts Center (WAC)—the umbrella organization for ASO—has canceled concerts through November 8. Musicians’ paychecks have come to a stop and their health insurance has been canceled.

At the end of September, Stanley Romanstein resigned his position as ASO president and executive director, stating that he believed his continued leadership would be an impediment to reaching a new labor agreement. Terry Neal, a retired Coca-Cola Company executive and current ASO board member, has been appointed interim president.

Still, WAC refuses to budge from its “best and final” offer presented September 5, which would reduce both musician salaries and the size of the orchestra, and would give ultimate control over the orchestra complement to administration. Two meetings have been held with Allison Beck, the federal mediator who helped reach a deal in the Met negotiations. WAC has since canceled meetings and has been slow to reschedule them.

ASO musicians have continued to perform concerts around Atlanta and have held daily protests outside WAC. A petition urging WAC and ASO management to end the lockout is available at: www.change.org/p/woodruff-arts-center-board-end-the-aso-musicians-lockout.


On November 9th the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musicians and management were able to negotiate a new deal six weeks after the season was supposed to have started (the season will now start this Thursday—11/13). The new deal allows musicians to receive a 6% pay raise over the next four years, and it will pay increased premiums to participate in a high-deductible health plan.

The size of the orchestra will increase from 77 musicians to 88 over the next four years.

Virginia A. Hepner, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Woodruff Arts Center said in a statement:

“We are thrilled we have been able to reach agreement with the musicians. Over the last several difficult weeks of negotiates, both sides recognized that we all share the same goals and aspirations – we all want a world class orchestra that the musicians and city are proud of and one that has long-term financial stability. We believe this new agreement is one that will allow us to achieve those goals.”

Danny Laufer, an associate principal cellist and vice president of the musicians’ negotiating team, said:

“We are grateful and humbled by the incredible outpouring of support displayed for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from our community, as well as across the country and around the world.”

The first concert will feature Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”