What a difference nine months and a four-year contract can make.
This time last year, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) was on a collision course with ASO management and the Woodruff Arts Center (WAC) executive committee, a labor dispute that resulted in the second musicians’ lockout in as many years.
Today, the ASO is showing signs of financial health not seen in more than a decade, a condition which musicians and management agree bodes well for restoring the musical standards that had previously elevated the orchestra to critical acclaim, international prominence and a seemingly endless string of Grammy Awards.
In July, the WAC announced the ASO had closed out the abbreviated 2014-15 concert season with a six-figure budget surplus, the first positive ledger report in 11 years. Additionally, the WAC has kicked off a fundraising effort that so far has raised $14.3 million for the Musicians’ Endowment Campaign.
A dedicated campaign group led by Robert Spano and (ASO board member) John White is charged with organizing and managing endowment-related activities.
“We are very pleased that we have been able to achieve this goal,” said Terry Neal, the ASO’s interim CEO and president. “The improvement in our finances is gratifying, but more work remains to be done to achieve long-term financial stability while assuring the highest levels of symphonic music.”
Good news from the ASO!
We ended the 2014-15 season with a balanced budget (with a surplus!) for the first time in 11 years,
and the Musicians' Endowment Fund drive has raised a whopping $13.3 million of its $25 million goal in a mere 7 months. This endowment drive will allow us to begin filling many of the positions we lost during the lockout.
THANK YOU to all who have supported us!
Tonight was our final dress rehearsal for the 2014-15 subscription season. There was a time when we didn't know if the 2014-15 season would even happen, but it did, in part thanks to our friend and ardent supporter, Ron Antinori. We presented Ron with a framed photo of our Deafening Silence opening night demonstration, signed by the orchestra and the chorus, followed by and long and well-deserved standing ovation. Thank you, Ron, for everything. Here's to the brighter future that lies ahead of us.
Congratulations to our indefatigable colleagues in Minnesota! They ratified a new collective bargaining agreement a whopping 21 months early, and their music director extended his contract through 2019. All of this on the heels of a historic trip to Cuba. Amazing news for an amazing orchestra!
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra music director Robert Spano discusses "Creation/Creator" with Lois Reitzes. On Thursday and Saturday, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and a host of actors, soloists and other special guests will perform the world premiere of a new piece by Christopher Theofanidis that is no ordinary composition.
"Creation/Creator" is the latest in the ASO’s A Theater of a Concert series, and it blends the auditory and the visual by harmonizing images with a live orchestra performance.
This novel, 15-movement work, which stems from a partnership between ASO, Emory University and the Georgia Humanities Council, takes words and ideas from philosophy, poetry, science, religion and literature.
On “City Lights,” Theofanidis and ASO music director and maestro Robert Spano talked with host Lois Reitzes about the essence of “Creation/Creator” and the preparations that have gone into such an ambitious collaboration.
“What he does so brilliantly is give us so many perspectives to contemplate,” Spano said of Theofanidis, “and yet those things all relate to one another.”
Stage director James Alexander will be working on his seventh collaboration with ASO.
The creative works that Theofanidis fuses in “Creation/Creator” range from the 13th century Persian poet Rumi (“Elephant in the Dark”) to 20th century physicist Richard Feynman.
“Behind science and religion and art is this impulse toward joy ... toward a great awakening in a way,” said Theofanidis, a longtime member of the Atlanta School of Composers.
The concerts, which begin at 8 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Symphony Hall, will be recorded for a forthcoming CD release of “Creation/Creator.”
By Wendy Parker
by Alan Fletcher
Composer, commentator, President and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School
Recent catastrophes like the lockouts in Minnesota and Atlanta at least brought to the fore questions about how to fund these organizations, what can be cut and what can't be cut, what one community can manage (rather than a cookie-cutter approach), what a community needs and thus will stretch for.
When I hear that classical music and its cousins in other arts are endangered because they haven't recognized that no one wants a formal, intense, sustained experience of concentration -- on anything! -- I am reminded of a hoary business school case study. I think the company was Procter and Gamble. The issue was a study showing that, say, 80 percent of all householders prefer high-suds detergent. Clearly, to stay alive, manufacturers had to have more and more high-suds products. Statistics proved that success depends on making only high-suds things. But the case study proposed that, while the whole world runs after the high-suds market, a great idea would be to champion low-suds soap for the 20 percent who will buy it.
I think, in an age of sound bites, tweets, ill-informed criticism, multi-tasking, and ever-decreasing attention spans, that an art form that stands instead for deep listening, repeated engagement, willingness to risk the experimental, recognition that to be prepared and thoughtful is a precious and rewarding thing -- that art form may prove, as it has for many centuries, very lively and hardy. And enduring.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra continues to enjoy an uptick in attendance while balancing its budget for the sixth consecutive year.
Last year's season, starting with the inaugural concerts of music director Louis Langrée and guest narrator Maya Angelou, have been a steady crescendo of growing audiences, groundbreaking initiatives and increased donations. And behind the scenes, the orchestra is close to erasing a nagging structural deficit.
Even as many American orchestras around the country are struggling, tens of thousands of people flocked to Music Hall last year to hear Brahms, Beethoven and Boyz II Men. Cincinnati is the smallest city in the nation that still supports a full-time, 52-week orchestra. The nation's fifth oldest orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony is one of just 14 year-round orchestras in America.
"We're on a roll. Attendance is up, contributions are up and our educational initiatives are expanding," said the orchestra's president, Trey Devey. "I think that the orchestra is in great shape with Louis and (Pops conductor) John Morris Russell. Our supporters are energized, our audiences are energized. The success we had last season is another example of the community rallying around the orchestra."
by Janelle Gelfand, firstname.lastname@example.org @Cincinnati.com
Save the date!
Carnegie Hall will present your Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2016. The ASO and ASO Chorus will perform Brahms's "Ein deutsches Requiem" at Carnegie Hall on April 30, 2016. In addition to the ASO, conducted by Robert Spano and our fabulous ASOC, directed by Norman Mackenzie, we take with us captivating soloists: soprano Jessica Rivera and baritone Nmon Ford. Put this event on your calendar, reserve tickets and make travel arrangements. Join your ASO in NYC!
Note: the ASO performance for the spring of 2016 is mentioned toward the end of the NY Times article.