Orchestra Institute Suspended : Music: The L.A. Philharmonic board says funds for its training program were not raised in time to coordinate a program for next year. A return in 1993 is possible.


A year that began with the bright promise of empire for the Los Angeles Philharmonic is ending more darkly. The new Hollywood Bowl Orchestra is still going on an expensive tour to Japan--following prolonged labor negotiations that nearly foundered--but the third jewel in the crown, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, has not survived the rack of the recession.

The Philharmonic has canceled the 1992 institute, after months of fund raising produced the required financial commitments too late to launch the necessary preparations, executives said.

“Nearly a full year of planning is required to present an institute season,” Philharmonic managing director Ernest Fleischmann said in a prepared statement released Friday. “This includes the engagement of faculty, brochure design, mailing and processing applications, the organization of the audition tour and the audition tour itself.”

Ironically, this decision follows a celebratory 10th anniversary season. The 1991 programming included the institute’s first commissioned work, and officials reported that they felt the institute had finally arrived at a level comparable to the long-established Tanglewood and Aspen programs, the nation’s premier summer training festivals.


Faced with the uncertainties of the recession and its own financial difficulties--exacerbated by the shortfall in the Music Center’s fund raising--Fleischmann and the Philharmonic Board have decided that “the orchestra’s core activities” demand the organization’s full resources. These activities apparently include the new pops orchestra but not the 10-year-old training program.

Keeping the institute viable is now the challenge for a volunteer Committee for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, which is “wholly responsible for developing a financial and administrative infrastructure that will ensure the long-term survival of the institute.”

What this means is unclear even to the Philharmonic at this time. “The only thing that’s definite now is that the institute is suspended,” said Philharmonic artistic administrator Ara Guzelimian. “We’re really in a transitional state.”

“From a professional point of view, I think (suspending the 1992 season) is probably the best thing they could do at this point,” said Richard Ortner, administrator of the Tanglewood Music Center. “Putting something together on a shoestring doesn’t really serve anybody.” He said that planning for the 1992 Tanglewood programs was begun last August.


Guzelimian said that it was a decision of the Philharmonic board that the institute should be the responsibility of an autonomous organization, although the desire is for it to retain at least an artistic association with the Philharmonic. Fleischmann, committee president Melvin Silverman and Lynn Harrell, institute artistic director since 1988, were all unavailable for comment.

At the final 1991 Institute Orchestra concert in August, Fleischmann made a dramatic intermission announcement that unless $250,000 to cover the Institute deficit was raised by Oct. 31, the program would end. His plea eventually produced the money, but long after the self-imposed deadline had passed.

Donors are being contacted by the Philharmonic and offered a choice of having their money returned or allowing it to be placed in an escrow account for a 1993 institute. The leading contribution was a $50,000 challenge pledge from the Herb Alpert Foundation.

Among its many activities, the institute has given a three-concert series at Hollywood Bowl. For 1992, the Philharmonic will replace that with a new series, with current subscribers allowed first chance to renew their seats.