Saturday, June 8, 2013

Nashville Symphony and Schermerhorn Symphony Center in financial crisis

The Tennessean newspaper has recently pointed out that the Nashville Symphony and its performance space, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, are at the edge of a financial cliff. According to this article, the Bank of America is still owed $82 million for the construction of the concert hall, which was completed in 2006. The Nashville Symphony owns the hall, but has been struggling to make payments, and orchestra reported severely declining revenue for the previous season (ending July 31, 2012).

You may be wondering what this has to do with Oregon. For starters, Jun Iwasaki, the concertmaster of the Nashville Symphony, was the former concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony. With a newly built concert hall and recording contracts with Naxos, it was a very smart move for Iwasaki. Also, the music director of the Nashville Symphony is Giancarlo Guerrero. Guerrero is the former MD of the Eugene Symphony. He also made an excellent decision to take the helm in Nashville, where, according to this article, his salary is $471,458 "with additional income of $18,688 from a related organization." In contrast, according to this article in Adaptistration, Carlos Kalmar's income from the Oregon Symphony was $364,200 (2009-2010 season - last public record).

Also, there is always talk in Portland about the sonic deficiencies of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and that the orchestra needs a new performance space. That is true, but there are a lot of dangers when considering the construction of a new hall, as the folks in Nashville are finding out.

Extra note: The musicians of the Nashville Symphony have written a press release about the situation with the Schermerhorn. You can read their  statement on Charles Noble's blog here.

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