The concertmaster of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra has signed a one-year contract with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, to begin this fall.

Violinist Yuriy Bekker, a native of Minsk, Belarus, who joined the Charleston Symphony as concertmaster in 2007, leaves during the organization's most tumultuous period in its history as it strives to reorganize after shutting down temporarily before the end of the last season.

"The Orlando Philharmonic is a fine orchestra, and it is a great opportunity for me," Bekker said. "My schedule in Orlando allows me to maintain previous commitments in Charleston and elsewhere."

Bekker said the arrangement is ideal. Should there be a 2010-11 orchestra season in Charleston, he will be able to play certain concerts. Furthermore, he will maintain his affiliation with the Charleston Academy, where he offers private lessons.

Meanwhile, the fate of the 2010-11 season remains uncertain.

The first in a series of four public meetings to determine the future of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra wrapped up Wednesday at the College of Charleston with many participants saying they were determined to find a solution for the symphony's chronic problems.

Essentially an idea session devoted to brainstorming a new vision for the organization, the meeting attracted a larger-than-expected group of about 200.

After an initial panel discussion Wednesday morning, participants split up into small groups to consider three questions:

--What added value does symphonic music bring to the city, region and state?

--What is the ideal composition and content for symphonic music in Charleston?

--What does it take to ensure a sustainable symphony operation?

Each group developed lists of ideas that they wrote on large cards, then shared many of those ideas with all in the room.

Laura Deaton, who served as interim operating officer for the Charleston Symphony during the 2006-07 fiscal year and who runs Full Glass Consulting, assisted Dianne Culhane, a consultant who specializes in collaborative strategic planning. She said all the responses from this meeting and the three to follow next week would be aggregated into a computer matrix then analyzed by members of the steering committee who would produce a set of recommendations by September.

Committee recommendations made available in September would need to be implemented quickly, and significant funding would have to be raised.

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