Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Colorado Symphony Orchestra will celebrate being back in the black

A year ago, it seemed like the Colorado Symphony Orchestra might be silenced altogether. The CSO -- which had emerged from the ashes of the Denver Symphony Orchestra two decades ago -- faced a $1.2 million cash shortfall at the end of June 2011 despite record sales that season, and some ugly sounds were emanating from Boettcher Concert Hall.

In September, twenty board members resigned in a major shakeup, after some of them had blamed the financial crisis on "greedy" musicians. But those same "greedy" musicians -- members of Colorado's only full-time professional orchestra -- then accepted a $530,000 total pay reduction. And some old, steady hands came back to help steer the symphony back to solvency.

Mary Rossick Kern and Jerome Kern returned to again chair the board, bringing major commitments in both cash and energy, and last fall, Gene Sobczak rejoined the symphony. And at today's annual meeting, the CSO will be able to celebrate being back in the black.

Here's the official announcement from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra:

The Colorado Symphony recently concluded a historical and very successful year. A revitalized level of collaboration among musicians, members of the Board of Trustees, management and staff has reaffirmed the Colorado Symphony's position as a leading cultural and creative enterprise in Colorado. Examples include performances at venues across the state as well as at Boettcher Concert Hall, expanded education programs, planning for the use of advanced recording technologies and broadcasting capabilities and a diverse variety of artistic partnerships that resulted in programming aligned with community interests. Furthermore, the recent appointment of world-renowned conductor Andrew Litton as Artistic Advisor will take Colorado Symphony's musical excellence to new heights.

Donor generosity, in conjunction with these efforts, has resulted in the Colorado Symphony's unprecedented $1.3 million turnaround. The 2011/12 fiscal year was completed with an operating surplus and no outstanding debt. Details will be made available when the Colorado Symphony publishes audited financial statements in early Fall.

To further underscore the achievements of this past year, we announce the Colorado Symphony Association's Annual Meeting 2011/12 at Boettcher Concert Hall on August 27, 2012 from 5:00 - 6:00 pm. The current state of the Symphony and the direction for the orchestra's future will be presented. All are encouraged to attend and take this opportunity to ask questions of the Symphony's leadership team.

But a few challenges remain. In 2007, Denver voters approached a bond issue to make major changes at Boettcher -- but the deal requires $25 million in matching funds, which the CSO has yet to raise. While the city has explored different ways to do the renovation project, it looks like like other outfits could have their eyes on that money.

Stay tuned.

This past spring, Barry Fey -- who'd helped save the symphony over twenty years ago -- teamed up again. Read more in "Barry Fey and Colorado Symphony make beautiful music together again."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun