Monday, February 3, 2014

Memphis blues

Facing financial implosion, the Memphis Symphony – whose rising-star music director, Mei-Ann Chen, just performed with the Richmond Symphony (review in previous post) – “says that its current season will be the final one in its current configuration,” Memphis Business Journal reports:

Officials quoted in the brief article say nothing about how the orchestra might be reconfigured or what role Chen might play in it.

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis’ daily newspaper, quotes orchestra officials as saying it would need $20-$25 million to continue as it is currently constituted. (The paper’s coverage is behind a pay wall.)

Norman Lebrecht focuses on the orchestra board’s choice of words – “wind down” – to characterize the situation:

ADDENDUM: Ruth McCambridge of Nonprofit Quarterly fills in some of the blanks. The Memphis Symphony’s endowment, she writes, “has been spent down through covering operating deficits that have totaled $8.34 million since 2005. The symphony board has unanimously approved a resolution saying the Memphis Symphony ‘cannot incur future deficits in operations’ and giving its executive committee authority to ‘wind down MSO’s operations’ if adequate funding or commitments aren’t found.”