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Monday, October 3, 2011

Rocky Mountain Low Note

Colorado Symphony is in financial trouble.
The Colorado Symphony calls Boettcher Concert Hall home in Denver, CO.
There's grim news coming out of Denver Colorado, and it's not just that the Broncos football team has decided to go back to wearing orange jerseys.

The Colorado Symphony, which has been that city's major orchestral ensemble since replacing the Denver Symphony in 1989 has joined the ranks of American orchestras in serious fiscal trouble. The orchestra has negotiated a 9% pay cut from its players and is looking for ways to stay afloat following the 2013 season.

To make matters worse, the ensemble (which plays its concerts at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex) is are currently without a music director, after Jefferey Kahane stepped down from the post at the end of 2010 due to medical reasons. The post of music director remains vacant, although Douglas Boyd currently serves as Principal Guest Conductor.

News of orchestras in dire financial straits is all too common in these black economic times. Donations have been slashed due to the economic crisis, and a Republican-controlled House of Represantatives has little interest in funding the arts.
  • The Detroit Symphony Orchestra spent most of its 2011 season in an ugly lockout with its players in an effort to lower costs. 
  • The venerable Philadelphia Orchestra declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and is trying to get its financial house in order. 
  • The Louisville Orchestra filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and is currently facing intense negotiations with the orchestra's union that will determine its future in Kentucky.
  • The New York City Opera decided to pull up stakes from Lincoln Center, citing high rents at their venue, the former New York State Theater.
Although Denver's orchestra is not in the "Big Five" (New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra) or in the "Lesser Five" (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, L.A. Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony) it is a solid organization with a long history in its community. The players also serve as the pit orchestra at Opera Colorado.

The CSO rose to prominence under the baton of Marin Alsop. Upcoming programs include a performance of Philip Glass' Violin Concerto 2 "The American Four Seasons" with violinist Robert MacDuffie on Oct. 15, and a performance of the Faure Requiem on Oct. 22.

To make a donation to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, visit this page on their official website.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats