Posted tagged ‘Honolulu Symphony’

R.I.P. Honolulu Symphony

December 14, 2010

Seeing the Honolulu Symphony die a long and painful death after enriching the community for over 100 years has been one low points of these recessionary times.

Not that the recession was entirely responsible for the symphony’s demise; it’s been on life support for years because of poor management and lack of support and survived this long only because of a $1.175 million gift from an anonymous donor a couple of years ago.

“Like libraries and museums, a symphony cannot be replaced overnight — it could take decades to rebuild such an institution,” the generous donor said.

It’s not only the loss of the concerts featuring an extensive repertoire of the world’s finest music, but the potential loss of outreach programs and private instruction that have touched 20,000 students a year and elevated the spirits of our community.

You have to ache for the musicians, who tried to stick it out despite a low-$30,000 base salary that often wasn’t even paid in recent years and would have shriveled to virtually nothing in the failed reorganization plan.

It was a disappointment that our public officials never recognized the importance of a professional symphony orchestra to the quality of community life and provided little support; the Legislature denied a grant at a critical time, the city kicked the orchestra out of the Blaisdell Concert Hall to cash in on a run of “The Lion King” and officialdom was mostly absent from attempts to save the symphony.

There’s some hope that with the Honolulu Symphony’s bankruptcy, the orchestra will re-form under a new and better-managed organization, but the challenge is daunting.

In the meantime, we still have Ballet Hawaii and Hawaii Opera Theatre, which both contract with symphony musicians, to keep a classical flame burning.
If you missed my last mention, here are a couple of symphony musicians trying to keep the hearth warm with lines of holiday cards with musical themes: Grin-n-Barrett Cards by Paul Barrett, the orchestra’s principal bassoonist, and Normzart Greeting Cards by clarinetist Norman F. Foster.


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