The 79 full-time musicians of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra have been taking steep cuts. They collectively agreed to give up $530,000 in September, and they took another hit when fall programming was trimmed back. To help soften the blow, the CSO Musicians Assistance Fund was created on October 6.
The fund is administered not by the CSO, but by Our Musical Heritage, a non-profit run by the Denver Musicians Association. "We're looking at who's in the most need," explains Thomas Blomster, vice president of the DMA.
But while the DMA makes all the decisions about which musicians get the help, CSO boardmembers have been contributing to the case. As of 11 a.m. today, the fund had collected about $36,000, with hefty donations coming from four members of the CSO board of trustees -- including new co-chairs Jerome Kern and Mary Rossick Kern. "I care about the musicians," Jerome says. "Why did my wife and I want to step in at this point if not because we care about the musicians and the orchestra?"
He calls the CSO one of the best non-Big Five orchestras in the country. "From a performance standpoint, [the CSO]'s in great shape," he says.
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Financially, the orchestra is looking for a bigger "base of support," he acknowledges. But Jerome Kern and the reconstituted board are sure they'll find it. "The CSO isn't going anywhere," he says. "Not if we can help it."