Times Music Writer

The Long Beach Symphony has virtually eradicated an accumulated debt of $758,000 that had forced the orchestra to close its doors for most of 1985.

The announcement was made Monday at the annual meeting of the Long Beach Symphony Assn. by George Murchison, president of the symphony's board of directors, and Mary Newkirk, general manager.

"We have been paying it off, all along, sometimes at the rate of up to $10,000 a month," Murchison told The Times. "That debt of $758,000 has now been reduced to $100,000, which represents a single loan we have had with Bank of America for some years, and on which we pay only 3% interest."

Newkirk said that, in addition to paying off all its creditors except for that one loan, "the orchestra now has a reserve of $130,000--and that does not count the monies we have taken in for the 1987-88 season, which are separate."

At the meeting, Ernie Kell, mayor of Long Beach, received a check for the final payment--$25,000--on the $175,000 loan the city gave the orchestra in 1983 (part of which the City Council later forgave).

Asked how the debt repayment was implemented, Newkirk answered: "We got the money from fund raising on several fronts--from corporate and individual donations, some of the sources new to us, and from special events like our annual Crescendo auction, where last February we netted $185,000. We also held a fund-raiser with the opening of the new Ramada Renaissance Hotel, an event where we netted $40,000."

New corporate sponsors from the Long Beach community are another key source of donations, both Murchison and Newkirk noted.

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