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Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra cancels Thursday's season-opening concert

By John Terauds on October 16, 2012

There will be no Toronto Philharmonia season-opener for Uri Mayer to conduct this week.

The Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra has cancelled Thursday’s season-opening concert with music director Uri Mayer at the George Weston Recital Hall, due to ongoing financial problems. The organization’s future is in question right now.

“We are not opening the season because we couldn’t raise enough money,” said the orchestra’s president, Dr Milos Krajny, in a short interview this morning.

On Sept. 10, he sent out a plea for help to the orchestra’s patrons and friends. “We need to raise $150,000 by the end of September 2012 in order to start the 2012-13 season in October.”

The emergency campaign did not meet its goal.

Dr Krajny says he is meeting with the Philharmonia’s board tomorrow to discuss the organization’s future. He says there will be two options on the table, to put the season opening on hold to January 25, which would have been the third date of its five-concert season, or to contemplate shutting the orchestra down.

The head of the board is very frustrated by the situation. On one hand, he and his fellow supporters of the North York-based orchestra were heartened by the marked improvement in artistic quality last season, under Mayer’s leadership, and of the consequent increase in ticket sales.

“But we only have four corporate sponsors,” says Dr Krajny, “and that is not enough.” He pointed out that it costs the organization $8,500 in rent alone for each concert. Box office revenues cover fractionally more than a third of the costs for each performance.

The orchestra’s website has not been updated, and the orchestra’s general manager is out of the country, so has not been available for comment. There is no voicemail for the orchestra’s phone number.

The only way subscribers and other ticket holders for Thursday’s concert can find out that the event is not happening is either by word of mouth, or by calling the boxoffice at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

Is it really possible that a place as populous and well-off as the North York area cannot support a quality orchestra that performs in one of Canada’s best concert halls?

John Terauds

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