Orchestra, Pops tangle in bankruptcy court

The Philadelphia Orchestra was back in bankruptcy court Monday, where Judge Eric Frank is trying to keep up with the orchestra’s relationship with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops.

The organization that presents concerts by Peter Nero is called Encore Services, Inc (ESI). For five years it has been an entity of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, which provided funding and administrative staff, but never fully merged: ESI maintained its own board.

But on April 25, just days after the orchestra first appeared in bankruptcy court, ESI and the Orchestra quietly split. The new ESI has no staff nor money of its own. It is representing itself in the bankruptcy case. The Philadelphia Orchestra Association has agreed to give give $225,000 to ESI to finish the current Peter Nero season, ending this month.

“The ESI board made a decision to separate itself from the Philadelphia Orchestra, we understand why they did that,” said Lawrence McMichael, representing the orchestra. “We’re working with them to make the transition as smooth and orderly as possible, including what we did today, which is some degree of continued financial support and administrative support.”

Neither McMichael nor representatives for the newly independent Philly Pops know if or how it will continue next season (2011-2012).

A lawyer for Peter Nero expressed to the bankruptcy judge her concern that the orchestra at first refused to fund ESI’s remaining season, and only did so at the 11th hour, putting into question the orchestra’s transparency during the proceedings.

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