Out of bankruptcy, Philadelphia Orchestra invests high hopes in new music director

This week, tickets for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2012-2013 season went on sale at the Kimmel Center box office. It’s the first season since the orchestra exited bankruptcy in July, and the inaugural season of incoming music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin.


Nézet-Séguin will play an important role in the financial recovery of the orchestra, post-bankruptcy, principals say. The orchestra renegotiated many of its contracts and settled some liabilities in bankruptcy court, but its money problems are far from over.

“We need to raise money — $25 million, ideally over the next 12 months — to complete the new season and ensure the following season,” said board chair Richard Worley. “Not all of that is to fund our cash-flow gap. Some is to rebuild the necessary working capital, and to pay off a few remaining liabilities.”

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The Orchestra is depending on the charisma and talent of Nézet-Séguin to get over the hump. He debuts as music director at the season-opening gala Oct. 18 with soprano Renée Fleming. Almost immediately afterward he will conduct the Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The orchestra is branding itself behind Nézet-Séguin: on advertisements, by nurturing new audiences through community outreach, and as the guy who will energize the musicians on stage.

“When I watch the musicians working with him, there is pure joy in that music-making. That gets me on the edge of my seat,” said orchestra president and CEO Allison Vulgamore. “I think what he’s doing is discovering again the Philadelphia sound, with more people. We have real results going into this season — more patrons and more donors.”

Although ticket revenue provides a fraction of the orchestra’s overall income, Vulgamore believes a full hall will reflect the Orchestra’s civic importance in Philadelphia.



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