The sound of music

The Glendale Symphony Orchestra Assn. Board of Directors has decided to forgo its holiday concert because of a lack of funding and will instead concentrate on fundraisers to produce a concert next year.

A lack of donations and a poor economy are reasons the board has been unable to put on a concert featuring the symphony, which is now in its 86th year.

The orchestra performed last in February 2007 at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

The orchestra provided the music for soloists in a concert underwritten by Samon Promotion. The last holiday concert was in 2006 at the Alex Theatre.

To perform a concert at the Alex will cost more than $100,000 to pay union musicians, theater rental and advertising and publicity, said board President Patrick Shahijanian.

The board is conducting a drive to increase the size of the board of governors, and members have a strategic plan, he said. The board is also interviewing for an executive director, Shahijanian said.

“We are really focused on building a new infrastructure,” he said. “Symphonic organizations across the country are facing significant financial crises.

This is due to the high cost of putting on performances and shortage of donors/sponsors, especially in the current financial climate.”

People don’t realize that it costs $75,000 to $100,000 to put on a symphonic concert, he added.

“Our cost per musician is $1,000 including rehearsals,” Shahijanian said.

“Add to that the cost of venue and publicity and printed materials and labor to sell tickets and coordination of the concert.”

The board held a comedy night fundraiser in June featuring Fritz Coleman and raised about $7,000.

With the funds already in their coffers, they are halfway to the $100,000 goal, Shahijanian said.

“We’ve turned a symphony in the red to an organization that is well in the black, and while we are financially strong due to the cost of each performance and the state of the economy, we are being cautious with our funds,” he said.

Smaller orchestra organizations can produce three or four performances a season using fewer musicians.

“But this is not what is expected from the Glendale Symphony,” he said. “But this reality, we have truly recognized, calls for a completely new organizational approach for success.”

The board has decided to concentrate on “organizational re-engineering” rather than putting on risky financial performances, he said.

“We hope that the community will be rest assured we have not forgotten our mission of putting on top-notch performances, and we look forward to continued support of our community and ask for their participation in any way they can in helping us with our mission.”

The priority of the board is to keep the tradition of the symphony alive, said past board president Bill Holderness.

“The Glendale Symphony is 85 years old, and it must be saved for the good of the community,” he said.

“It has been bringing beautiful classical music to the city for so many years.”

Recent fundraisers have been successful in adding to the performance fund, said Jack Kabateck, vice president of the board.

“Fundraisers have been enthusiastically received by those attending and have and are continuing to provide an important source of revenue toward our return to the Glendale musical forefront,” he said.

The next fundraiser will be in the first quarter of the new year, Shahijanian said. But by December, the board plans to have a Friends of the Symphony organization in place.

The structure of this group will be announced in the near future, he said.

“Our enthusiasm and determination has never been higher than it is today,” Shahijanian said.

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