Cash-Strapped Long Island Philharmonic Hopes to Strike a Chord With Funders

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Long Island Philharmonic performs an outdoor concert. (Courtesy Long Island Philharmonic)

The Long Island Philharmonic has been performing for more than 30 years, but it's now one of many local music organizations left grasping for funds during a time of dwindling support from the government and local organizations.

Saddled with an accumulated deficit of about $700,000, the orchestra canceled its subscription series last season, and has announced that it may need to suspend it again for the upcoming season. In the meantime, Jack Russell, president of the orchestra's Board of Directors, said the Philharmonic has set a goal to raise $600,000 dollars by next summer.

Russell said a final decision on whether to proceed with its subscription series hasn't been made yet, and that the orchestra will continue performing a handful of free concerts on Long Island this summer, and its arts-in-education program in schools.

Peter Goodman, a music critic and assistant professor of journalism at Long Island's Hofstra University, said the orchestra, like many regional music groups, is competing for patrons with regional music groups.

In this case, the Philharmonic is competing with what Goodman called "the gravitational pull" of Manhattan's metropolitan center. "The wealthy contributors on Long Island are more likely to become friends of the Philharmonic, than friends of the Long Island Philharmonic," he said.

Goodman also pointed out that regional orchestras are seeing a drop in local support, because many small banks and corporations that traditionally helped fund them have either gone out of business, or merged into larger groups since the recession.

But he believes there is hope, if the Long Island Philharmonic is able to meet its funding goal, "because that would indicate that there is a reservoir of support, that there are places where they can find the funds, that there are organizations, that there are people who have the money and are willing to give the money," he said.

Russell said the orchestra would like to continue its subscription series, and one option is slowly phasing it back in.

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Comments [5]

Frank Feldman

Mr. Cox-I'm an educated professional musician. I have heard the L.I. Philharmonic. They are nothing to write home about. Music lovers, such as myself, can spend the extra twenty dollars on train tickets into to Manhattan to hear a great orchestra. Let the Tilles Center program great chamber ensembles, visiting orchestras and soloists.

Jul. 25 2011 09:59 AM
David from Flushing

Whether we like it or not, surveys have repeatedly shown that only about 10% of the population expresses any great liking for classical music. Of late, this tends to be my older generation.

Many "explanations" have been put forth for this including the state of music education. In the 1950s we had traditional music education and very few of the students liked classical music by the time they got to high school. I see no evidence that people will automatically like something with increased exposure. This is a form of denial that there are differing opinions out there. The fact is our culture has changed and turned away from classical music.

There have also been advances in sound recording---would you rather hear a second rate regional orchestra live or a first rate one on a CD?

It is very difficult for local government to support a form of music that most do not like. If government money is to be spent on music, a case can be made that it should what the greatest number of taxpayers will enjoy. For good or ill, there is something called democracy.

Jul. 24 2011 02:32 PM
David Cox from Manhattan

These are my thoughts:
As Mr. Feldman makes clear he does not need symphonic music and thus thinks none of us do, or even worse deserve to have a regional orchestra. It is apparent, to me that those who did not receive a decent musical education are not going to wake up at 65 and give a million dollars to the Philharmonic, NY or LI. How sad, for our country.

Jul. 24 2011 08:14 AM
Frank Feldman

I lived on Long Island for most of my life and, apart from a few towns, and a few folks in those towns, feel that Long Island doesn't remotely deserve it's own orchestra. At least one that needs to be bailed out in these troubled times. Let all the deeply committed musical connoisseurs living in Old Westbury, et al. come to the rescue.

Jul. 23 2011 08:52 PM
Michael Meltzer

Every business in Manhattan that's walking distance from Penn Station, led by Macy's & J.C. Penney, ought to chip in something here.

Jul. 23 2011 12:46 AM

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