Over musicians’ objections, Philadelphia orchestra seeks bankruptcy

The Philadelphia Orchestra will seek bankruptcy protection.  Facing a shrinking endowment and growing deficit, the orchestra board members decided Saturday to file Chapter 11.

As board members entered the building on Market Street where their meeting would take place, orchestra musicians demonstrated their opposition to bankruptcy in the best way they knew how–with their instruments.

John Koen, the chair of the player’s committee, says the musicians have offered an employment contract that would save the organization $25 million in three and a half years.

“My committee made a proposal that would be more than enough to prevent this,” said Koen. “They should be able to take the contract we offered and say to donors, the musicians are making a sacrifice but are willing to work with us.”

The board overwhelmingly voted for bankruptcy protection.  The only dissenting votes were the five from the player’s committee.  Board chair Richard Worley says the decision was difficult and emotional.

“We’re running low on cash, we’re running a deficit, we have to put ourselves into a position that will attract investment funds that will help us begin the turnaround,” Worley said.

Orchestras in other cities have also filed for bankruptcy recently–including Honolulu and Louisville–but none of the size and quality of Philadelphia. The show will go on. The players will continue to perform their regular season.

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