Sunday, August 2, 2015

Archive: May, 2011

POSTED: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 11:23 AM

Drew McManus, arts consultant and dedicated orchestra-world blogger, has linked us to this bit of gallows humor by Dixon, creator of a cartoon about orchestras.

Dixon doesn't name his characters, but I do believe the figure on the right is president Allison Vulgamore.

POSTED: Friday, May 27, 2011, 9:41 AM

You're gliding up the escalator after your ride in from Chestnut Hill and you hear - of all things - Beethoven. Commuters delighted in (or totally ignored) a sextet from the Philadelphia Orchestra that popped up Friday morning in Market East Station as part of the orchestra's 'Listen With Your Heart' campaign.

POSTED: Thursday, May 26, 2011, 1:10 PM

A meeting open to any and all of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association's potential 23,000 creditors was held Thursday morning. In attendance were the Association's bankruptcy lawyer, a couple of members of the orchestra administration (the new development vice president Marilyn Lucas and CFO Mario Mestichelli), two musicians, and, as far as I can tell (despite the mass mailing advising potential creditors of the meeting), four actual subscriber/donor types.

As much as I'd like to report fully on the substance of the meeting, I can't. At the start, the lawyer from the U.S. Trustee's office said the meeting was not open to the public, and he asked me to leave. The Inquirer's lawyers are now looking into the question of whether the meeting is considered public. (I suppose I could have pulled out my creditor's letter, which the orchestra sent me, which might have secured my right to be in attendance; perhaps I bought orchestra tickets at some point?)

The U.S. Trustee is the agency of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for overseeing the administration of bankruptcy. The trustee's lawyer said that because of the bankruptcy judge's decision to extend the deadline for the orchestra to file its schedule of assets and liabilities to June 15, it was "very difficult" to hold the meeting - which is designed to give creditors (you) a chance to ask questions of the debtor (the Orchestra Association).

POSTED: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 5:43 PM

The judge in the Philadelphia Orchestra Association’s bankruptcy petition Wednesday approved the retention of law firms and other professionals in the case.

Judge Eric L. Frank granted the orchestra’s and Academy of Music’s use of New York bankruptcy consultant Alvarez & Marsal. The approval is retroactive to the firm’s hiring, Jan. 18, with a $50,000 retainer and payments of $432,955.84 in the days leading up to the April 16 bankruptcy filing by the orchestra and Academy.

Frank affirmed the retention of law firm Curley, Hessinger & Johnsrud in handling the orchestra’s related negotiation of a new labor contract with musicians.

POSTED: Monday, May 23, 2011, 2:51 PM

Lawyers from the musician and management sides of the Philadelphia Orchestra met today with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington D.C. The idea is to try to begin resolving some of the differences that have kept a new labor pact from being reached despite many months of talks.

A labor deal is more critical than ever. For one thing, a lot of donors are sitting on the sidelines pending a unified vision of musicians and management. If the orchestra is going to make any real progress in the enormous fund-raising task before it, it needs to do three things: reach a deal with musicians, articulate a mission for the orchestra that can be embraced by funders and the listening public, and emerge from bankruptcy with a plan that signals an equitable and humane solution for all the stakeholders.

There's also some urgency added by the recent filing of a stipulation in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in which management gives notice that it may seek to impose a new contract on players after July 1. If bankruptcy was a "hammer," in the words of one management lawyer, throwing out the musicians' contract and imposing a new one would be the potential dropping of an anvil.

POSTED: Thursday, May 19, 2011, 8:38 AM
Photo: Laurence Kesterson/staff

What does it mean that the Philadelphia Orchestra has raised $2.6 million in a month through its "Listen With Your Heart" campaign? Is that a lot of money relative to the amount the orchestra typically raises in a month? Will raising money at that pace, if it continues, avert a big deficit this season?

Unless the rate of fund-raising picks up considerably, "Listen With Your Heart" probably won't put a dent in the projected $5 million deficit for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2011.

There are reasons for the orchestra to do this campaign beyond money, to be sure.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 5:39 PM

Although operating for more than a month, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s “Listen With Your Heart” campaign Wednesday received an ardent boost from Mayor Nutter, who issued a call for wide-spread support of the organization.

“Now is the time for Philadelphia to come together and give back to the Philadelphia Orchestra,” the Mayor said at a press gathering in the rotunda of the Ritz-Carlton.

“Listen With Your Heart” — the title was suggested by the firm of public relations consultant Brian Tierney — is a broad-based umbrella term being applied to many of the orchestra’s activities while it works its way through chapter 11 bankruptcy and labor talks with musicians.

POSTED: Thursday, May 12, 2011, 9:42 PM

Soon after Philadelphia Orchestra principal clarinetist Ricardo Morales decided to take a post with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia is facing the possible departure of another star.

Efe Baltacigil has won the principal cello auditions at the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Baltacigil, 32, currently associate principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, captured the spot Monday after auditions at Benaroya Hall.

He hasn't decided whether to take the post.

About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

Reach Peter at

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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