Phila. Orchestra files for bankruptcy, musicians scramble

The Philadelphia Orchestra filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Saturday.

A spokesman for the musicians, whose five members on the 33-member board voted in solidarity against the filing, said the move “will immediately damage” its reputation.

“Not only did [the orchestra] have funds available to have prevented this, but the musicians have offered significant concessions to prevent bankruptcy filing,” said Dan Fee, who represents orchestra musicians and added that some are already taking auditions elsewhere. “No other premiere orchestra in the world has filed for bankruptcy.”

Orchestra spokeswoman Katherine Blodgett said the filing ensures completion of the current concert season.

“In simplest terms, we are nearly out of cash,” Blodgett said. “Not only was filing the most responsible choice, but doing it now ensures that there is sufficient funding to successfully complete the 2010-2011 concert season in June.”

Fee points to concerns about the Orchestra’s reputation, adding, “It will be harder to attract and retain the world-class musicians that make the Philadelphia orchestra what it is. If you had the option of going to a place whose future was secure, would you go to one that is in bankruptcy?”
The 111-year-old organization cited operating deficits, declining ticket revenues, reduced donations and pension and contractual obligations as contributing factors to the decision.

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