Philly Orchestra Files for Backruptcy

Board cites large decline in audience, but musicians say move premature
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2011 9:58 AM CDT
The Philadelphia Orchestra yesterday became the first major US orchestra to file for bankruptcy.   (Philorch.org - Philadelphia Orchestra website)

(Newser) – The 111-year-old Philadelphia Orchestra is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing a "tremendous decline" in audiences. The orchestra, made internationally famous by such great conductors as Stokowski and Ormandy, has $46 million in operating costs this year, but is expecting just $33 million in revenues, reports the AP. "I feel overwhelmed and horrified by the events of the past few days, and I cannot yet grasp what the consequences of today's vote will be," wrote chief conductor Charles Dutoit in a statement.

Although the bankruptcy vote last night was nearly unanimous, all five orchestra members on the board voted against it. "I think it was unnecessary," a players' rep tells the Philadelpha Inquirer. Management "has not turned over every stone." Experts say the bankruptcy filing is unusual because, with an endowment of $140 million, the orchestra's assets are more than triple its liabilities. But despite the move, concerts will continue as scheduled for now. "It's shocking," said one regular concert-goer. "I think they do a wonderful job, and the city loves them." (Read more Philadelphia Orchestra stories.)

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