News - May 2009
May 31, 2009 - Various:
Charlotte Symphony Makes its Pick - Christoper Warren-Green to be Orchestra's 11th Music Director
May 26, 2009, Charlotte, NC: The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (CSO) announced today the appointment of Christopher Warren-Green as its next Music Director. Mr. Warren-Green begins his tenure in September 2010 and succeeds Christof Perick, who has served as Music Director since 2001.
Over the course of the past two seasons, the Charlotte Symphony evaluated eight Music Director candidates. A search committee, led by CSO Board member Andrew Adair, began deliberations in February following the final candidate’s visit.
“The Charlotte Symphony is thrilled that our two-year search has culminated in the appointment of Christopher Warren-Green as our next Music Director,” says Executive Director Jonathan Martin. “Christopher's extraordinary musicianship, combined with his grace and charm, has already inspired the Charlotte Symphony family and our city. We look forward to a close partnership with him as we work together to build a stronger, more resilient orchestra for a growing Charlotte.”
A native of Gloucestershire, UK, Christopher Warren-Green has held the position of Music Director of the London Chamber Orchestra since 1988. In 2004 he succeeded Sir Neville Marriner as Principal Conductor of the Camerata Resident Orchestra of the Megaron Athens. From 1998 to 2005 he was Chief Conductor of the Nordic Chamber Orchestra, and from 1998 to 2001 was Chief Conductor of the Joenkoeping Sinfonietta. He has conducted orchestras in the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe, Central America, Asia, and Australia...
"I am delighted to be taking up the post as Music Director of the Charlotte Symphony,” Warren-Green says. “Since first working with the orchestra in 2005, I felt an instant rapport with the players and I'm very much looking forward to our future collaboration. I'm also excited to be a part of such a dynamic team at such a crucial time in the CSO's history. "
Warren-Green joins the CSO at a defining moment. Following a rigorous evaluation by an independent consultant in 2007, the Symphony embarked on a path toward a new level of increased financial stability and greater service to its community. Since 2007, subscription sales and average attendance have risen, financial support from the CSO Board of Directors has increased dramatically, labor costs have been controlled, and internal leadership and governance have strengthened. The recent economic downturn, however, has posed serious challenges for the CSO. The Symphony has responded with a series of measures to cut administrative and artistic costs as part of a restructuring plan.
“In spite of the challenges posed by the current economic climate, the Charlotte Symphony is undeterred in its commitment to artistic integrity, fiscal responsibility, and community service,” says CSO Board Chair Pat Rodgers. “Christopher Warren-Green will play a key role in the future of this orchestra. We are pleased to welcome him to the Symphony family and look forward to working with him as we move forward.”
Warren-Green, who last conducted the Charlotte Symphony in January, will appear on the upcoming Classics series in February 2010, leading a program that includes Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. The following season he will assume the role of Music Director, conducting the majority of the Classics series programs in 2010-2011.
(Press release courtesy of the CSO.)
Charlotte's Arts & Science Council Cuts Funding for Charlotte Symphony - the Orchestra Responds
May 21, 2009, Charlotte, NC: Yesterday the Board of Directors of the Arts & Science Council (ASC) voted to provide a restricted grant of $900,000 to the Charlotte Symphony (CSO). This represents a reduction of 54% from its grant of last year, and is contingent on the CSO presenting a restructured business model acceptable to ASC.
The ASC’s decision comes at a defining moment for the Charlotte Symphony. Two years ago, the ASC and CSO jointly engaged an independent consultant to determine whether a full-time professional orchestra could be sustained in Charlotte. The consultant affirmed that it could and recommended specific strategies to move the organization towards a sustainable business model. The Symphony began executing on these recommendations that included labor cost reductions, a revitalized marketing plan to boost attendance, greater accountability to the community, and a substantial increase in financial support from its Board of Directors.
The progress made since 2007 has been very meaningful. The Symphony has achieved consistent growth in its series subscriber base and ticket revenue and unprecedented increases in Board giving – from $124,000 in 2006 to a total of nearly $600,000 in this fiscal year. In addition, operating cost increases have been controlled: the labor contracts of its musicians were renegotiated, resulting in savings of nearly $1 million over three years. And in the past 12 months, experienced new administrative leadership has been put in place. Finally, planning is underway to build its chronically undersized endowment fund, long considered the largest risk to its long term health.
The economic downturn of the past nine months, however, has had a profound impact on the non-profit sector in Charlotte, and the Symphony’s 10% decline in overall donations this year, coupled with it existing annual operating losses, has made it clear that the progress of the past two years is insufficient to ensure financial viability. The Symphony has therefore initiated a more substantive restructuring of its business, beginning with immediate reductions in its administrative costs through layoffs, furloughs and freezes, a 16% cut in the pay of its Executive Director, and initiatives underway to further reduce its artistic costs. This restructuring will maintain its successful Classics, Pops and Lollipops programming, but will also focus on shifting other concert activity to yield higher financial return and serve its growing audience base. This plan was presented in detail to ASC leadership several weeks prior to its granting decision.
But success for any professional orchestra cannot be achieved simply by cost control. Nor can it be achieved solely through strong programming that drives increased ticket sales. A viable business model for any professional orchestra requires all of that and annual contributed support from individuals, corporations, foundations and granting organizations such as the ASC. That is why we are extremely disappointed that the ASC has chosen to cut its forward distribution so significantly, well beyond the 37% reduction in its own annual fund results, and precisely at a point when the CSO can demonstrate progress in many critical areas.
ASC’s funding decision will make our work much more challenging. Regardless, the Charlotte Symphony will remain focused on its commitment to serve its community with great music, improving its fiscal operations, and emerging from the current downturn stronger, more resilient, and better structured to serve the Charlotte region.
(Press release courtesy of the CSO.)
William Henry Curry Gets the Nod: The Durham Symphony Orchestra Announces New Music Director
May 8, 2009, Durham, NC: William Henry Curry was appointed as music director of the Durham Symphony Orchestra (DSO) on May 7, 2009. In announcing the appointment, board president Hope Hills, Ph.D., said: “Board members and musicians are truly thrilled that William Henry Curry has accepted our invitation to be our Music Director. His musical and conducting talent, passion and vision for our future have excited us all. We all know that he will take the Durham Symphony to a new level of performance and will be so helpful in enhancing our presence in and connection to the entire Durham community.”
With a three-year contract, Mr. Curry becomes the third Music Director of the DSO. He will also continue his current post with the North Carolina Symphony as Resident Conductor and Artistic Director for Summerfest and all the North Carolina Symphony summer programs. He also conducts classical, educational and pops concerts throughout the state for the NC Symphony. He will succeed Alan Neilson, who led the DSO for twenty-three years. He retired after his last concert in February, 2008. Vincent Simonetti was the founding director from 1976 until 1983. He continues to play the tuba with the DSO.
“It is a great honor to be chosen out of a very competitive field to become the third conductor in the history of the Durham Symphony Orchestra” Mr. Curry commented. “I salute the two previous conductors, Alan Neilson and Vincent Simonetti, for their years of service with this wonderful group. Durham should be very proud of the DSO. It is a rare jewel in our midst. Over the coming years, it will be my mission and joy to polish this musical gem while bringing new audiences to our unique and exciting concerts that will have a fresh approach."
The appointment of Mr. Curry ends a 15-month international search. Ninety-eight conductors from a number of countries applied for the post. This field was cut to five contenders who each led a concert during this past season. Musicians played a major role in the choice of Mr. Curry. The choice was made by the board only after meeting with DSO musicians to discuss the results of musician evaluations and board appraisals.
Mr. Curry’s activities as Music Director will include: conducting Classical Concerts in the Fall and February as well as the Holiday Pops and the Spring Pops in the Park Series, providing artistic vision and guidance, planning programs and working with the board to engage the community and engender support for the DSO. His first concert will be held at the Carolina Theatre on October 25, 2009. Additional information is available on the DSO website at www.durhamsymphony.org
Mr. Curry came to the North Carolina by way of New Orleans where he served as Resident Conductor of the New Orleans Symphony. A native of Pittsburgh, Curry started conducting and composing music at age 14. His first major appointment was at age 21 when he was named Assistant Conductor of the Richmond Chamber Orchestra. On the same day, he was called in to replace a conductor who suddenly became ill for a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Curry's unexpected debut was hailed by the critics and audience alike. He went on to serve as Resident Conductor with the Baltimore Symphony for six years (1978-1983) and with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for two years (1983-1985).
In 1983, Mr. Curry was also appointed Associate Conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony, a post he held until 1988, the same year he was named winner of the Leopold Stokowski Conducting Competition and performed in Carnegie Hall. He was featured conductor for the tour and recording of Anthony Davis's Grammy-nominated opera X. He has also conducted opera productions with the New York City Opera, the Houston Grand Opera and the Chicago Opera Theatre.
Mr. Curry has conducted over forty orchestras, including appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland, Houston, National, Detroit, Chicago, Denver, American and San Diego symphonies. In November of 1997 he made his debut in Israel with the Israel Camerata Jerusalem orchestra; he has also conducted orchestras in Bangkok and Taiwan. In the 2002-03 season he made appearances as guest conductor with the Indianapolis, Detroit, and New Jersey orchestras. He made his conducting debut with the New York City Ballet in December 2002 in their famed Balanchine production of The Nutcracker.
Maestro Curry is also a composer, and his works have been played by many of America’s finest orchestras. On June 13, 1999, the Indianapolis Symphony premiered his work, Eulogy for a Dream. This piece had been broadcast nationally in January 2000 on the National Public Radio program Performance Today. In one of his last public appearances, the late William Warfield of Showboat and Porgy and Bess fame narrated the North Carolina premiere to enthusiastic audience and critical acclaim in January 2002. This work, based on the speeches and writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was performed by the Durham Symphony, with Mr. Curry conducting with Joseph Henderson, Director of the Walltown Children’s Theatre narrating in November, 2008. It was a tremendous success and received a standing ovation from the Carolina Theatre audience.
“The Durham Symphony Orchestra board and musicians are indeed honored and thrilled to have Mr. Curry as our new Music Director,” Hills said. “We know that Durham and the Triangle will enjoy the chance to experience where he takes the DSO. We are so excited to see the plans he has for our first season with him as our Music Director and we are pleased that he is committed to leading us for the long term.”
(Press release courtesy of the Durham Symphony Orchestra.)
Raleigh's Subsidies to Carolina Ballet Continue to Trouble Arts Community
The City of Raleigh is kicking Carolina Ballet out of Memorial Auditorium in order to bring in more bus-&-truck shows to offset the civic center and performing arts center deficits, but thus far, few touring shows have been booked for 2009-10 - indeed, Broadway Series South has announced only a quarter as many events as in the current season. This merely amplifies the concerns of other local performing arts organizations that have been shoved aside in favor of the ballet - and that are not reaping the financial benefits the City will shower on the ballet: free rent, an annual subsidy of a quarter of a million dollars, concessions on concessions (specifically, the right - denied all other groups - to hawk donated wine in the center), and more. For details, see our February 2009 news column,
Updated 6/2/09: ...Or maybe Carolina Ballet needs the money, after all.... Their latest 990, available at http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2008/561/445/2008-561445383-04c41c46-9.pdf
, shows that the top three execs received 18% raises last year, bringing the total senior-level compensation package to over $400,000 (including payroll taxes and benefits). This is merely half of the subsidy plan proposed by the City - that comes to around $800K in cash and in-kind benefits. Under this scenario, maybe Krupa & Company are not treating the ballet generously enough....