Charleston Symphony Orchestra on sound footing for 2012-13 season
It’s not quite business as usual, but the Charleston Symphony Orchestra appears to be back on sound footing after a near collapse in 2010 and a taxing climb out of a legal and fiscal pit that threatened to swallow it whole.
At its board meeting last week, symphony officials expressed moderated optimism about the future, noting several upward trends.
The 2011-12 season ended with a $71,000 surplus, and fundraising for the new season is ahead of plan.
Ticket sales are predicted to provide 38 percent of earned revenue this season, compared to 35 percent during 2011-12 and 24 percent during 2010-11.
Nearly 200 more subscriptions have been sold so far than the total sold last season.
The fundraising goal of $1.45 million is a 14 percent increase over last season.
Last year, the symphony exceeded its single ticket sales goal by $68,000 and surpassed its subscription revenue goal by $40,000.
At the onset of the new fiscal year in July, the symphony received an anonymous $100,000 gift, setting a certain positive tone, noted Board President John Warren.
Artistic programming is ambitious and diverse, featuring many guest conductors and soloists, and a variety of musical styles and formats.
The Masterworks series opens Oct. 12 with a blockbuster performance of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” featuring a large chorus that will also lend its force to a reading of Brahms’ “Schicksalslied” (“Song of Destiny”).
Other Masterworks concerts at the Sottile Theatre (44 George St.) include:
Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, played by Charleston prodigy Micah McLaurin, on Jan. 11 and 12.
An all-Brahms program, including his Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra and his Symphony No. 2 on Feb. 15 and 16.
The Charleston Symphony will present a special performance of Verdi’s “Requiem” on April 12 and 13. The stage of the Sottile will be occupied to the edge.
The symphony is expanding its chamber music series at the Dock Street Theatre, which proved popular last season, selling out some concerts.
On Nov. 10 the chamber orchestra will present two versions of “The Four Seasons,” one by Vivaldi, the other by Tango master Astor Piazzolla.
The Pops! series includes a holiday concert Dec. 14 and 15, a circus extravaganza on Jan. 25 and 26, and a dance-a-thon featuring famous American tunes on March 1 and 2.
Handel’s “Messiah” also is scheduled for three performances in December.
Recent administrative staff additions (marketing and development) have strengthened the organization’s ability to reach potential patrons and supporters with innovative programs and “sold services,” board leaders and staff said. These services will include sending ensemble players drawn from the orchestra to churches and other venues to play concerts.
Education programming also will expand, and there’s even some talk about forming a Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra in collaboration with the Youth Orchestra of the Lowcountry and the Charleston Academy of Music.
The Charleston Symphony Orchestra Gospel Choir and Spiritual Ensemble are consolidating their operations while at the same time introducing new musical leaders.
Isaiah R. McGee, a native of Anderson and director of choral activities at Claflin University, will be artistic director for both groups and conduct the Gospel Choir.
David A. Richardson, an established choral expert who has worked extensively in the Lowcountry, will lead the Spiritual Ensemble.
The symphony continues its search for a full-time music director. The search committee, led by Robert Blocker, has received 125 applications and narrowed the field to about 15. The committee meets later this month to conduct video interviews with candidates and further refine the search.
Next steps will likely include attending concerts and, eventually, inviting candidates to Charleston to lead the symphony.
On Jan. 1, Robert Schlau, currently vice president of finance, will replace Warren as president. For more information, and to purchase season tickets, visit www.charleston symphony.com.
Another performance organization that has seen hard times recently also is battling back.
The Charleston Ballet Theatre has announced its new season after a tense period characterized by licensing violations, board resignations and allegations of financial mismanagement.
During the spring, Resident Choreographer Jill Eathorne Bahr and Executive Artistic Director Patricia Cantwell established a new board of directors and announced restructuring initiatives.
The performance season begins Oct. 19 and 20 at the Charleston Music Hall with Bahr’s production of “Dracula.”
The annual presentation of “The Nutcracker” is slated for Dec. 15 and 16 at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.
On Feb. 9, the ballet presents “Yes! It’s Gershwin” at the Sottile Theatre, a one-night-only show.
Bahr’s “The Wizard of Oz” is scheduled for March 22 and 23 at the Sottile, followed by “Road to Rio,” a Brazilian romp hosted by the Music Hall on April 19 and 20.
A children’s series also is planned, and the dance school continues to enroll students.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.charlestonballet.com.
Reach Adam Parker at 937-5902. Follow him at www.facebook.com/aparkerwriter.