D.C. Philharmonic Concerts Postponed Till the Fall

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 9, 2009

In March, with much fanfare, a new orchestra called the D.C. Philharmonic announced its inaugural concert program, scheduled to take place tonight and tomorrow night. Yesterday, it announced that both concerts have been postponed until this fall, scarcely 36 hours before the first was supposed to start.

"The reality is that our ticket sales were nowhere near where they needed or should have been," said John Baltimore, the orchestra's conductor. (Anyone who did buy tickets can have their money refunded at the Strathmore box office.)

The perception of musicians contracted to play in the orchestra -- which included players from both the Washington National Opera and the now-defunct Baltimore Opera -- was that the orchestra was having difficulty meeting the schedule of payments the union imposes on new organizations. The first 25 percent was due on April 1 but arrived a few days late.

The second 25 percent was due yesterday; it was never sent. Instead, an e-mail message went out to the players announcing that the concert had been postponed.

"We absolutely could have made the next deposit," Baltimore says, "but my investors would have lost a ton of money."

Some players in the orchestra questioned whether Baltimore was well enough prepared for the extremely challenging program he had set for himself, which included Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony. But the quality of the players assembled by the orchestra contractor Sue Kelly was quite good, according to Phil Snedecor, a trumpet player and member of Washington Symphonic Brass who contracted to play with the D.C. Philharmonic.

"I was very impressed with the people who showed up and wanted to play," he says. "It's a statement about how hungry musicians in the area were for something to happen." He added: "We all needed a positive thing to happen in the D.C. area. So many bad things are happening" -- the closing of the Baltimore Opera and the Master Chorale being two prime examples. "We all wanted this to work."

Andre Johnson, the new orchestra's press representative, says the orchestra plans to reschedule the event for September.

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