WXXI Local Stories
7:12 am
Wed September 2, 2009

Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Swaps Out Programs to Cut Costs

Rochester, NY – A tough economy has forced the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra to alter its upcoming performance schedule.

The orchestra is dropping some expansive productions that would have required larger-than-usual ensembles, and costly soloists. Those performances are being replaced with programs that RPO president Charlie Owens says will be equally "compelling."

Owens says the organization began by trimming administrative expenses.

"Given the seriousness of how we've been challenged economically we are having to go one step further, which is the very last thing that we want to do - to begin to take a critical look at what were frankly some of the most exciting but also most expensive programs that were in our original schedule for the upcoming season."

Those cuts include replacing Mahler's Fifth Symphony with a Mozart piece, swapping out Aida for Verdi's Requieum, putting off the annual "Glory of Gospel" program for a year, and modifying the program for the weekend of Valentine's Day from Berlioz and Strauss pieces to a yet-to-be-determined slate of Romantic composers.

The RPO's having a "grand re-opening" of the newly renovated Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater on October 8.

Owens says the Rochester community is traditionally very generous and that he's gotten a lot of feedback from donors who regret having to drop their support.

The orchestra has lost about 900 donors in the last year, taken a $200,000 hit to what it can draw from its endowment, and has seen support from some foundations wane.