Cash-strapped National Philharmonic lives to play another season

Wed Jul 31, 2019 at 12:00 pm

In some unexpected good news, the National Philharmonic has lived to see another day. 

After announcing plans for an imminent shut-down earlier this month, the part-time orchestra based in Montgomery County says it has raised $200,450, which will allow it to continue operating, at least for the coming 2019-20 season.

Supporters of the ensemble organized an online donation drive, to which more than 400 donors responded.

“We are immensely grateful for the tremendous response from the community,” said National Philharmonic president Leanne Ferfolia in a statement released Tuesday evening. She said the grass-roots initiative “clearly values the numerous programs, concerts, and outreach that National Philharmonic provides.” 

The budget shortfall of $150,000, the result of rising costs and shrinking government funding, was a small percentage of the orchestra’s $2 million annual budget. According to the National Philharmonic website Tuesday afternoon, the donation drive had exceeded its goal by over $50,000 in pledges.

Meanwhile Jim Kelly, the orchestra’s personnel manager and a member of the violin section, has come up with an alternative plan.

Kelly wrote to the National Philharmonic board of directors on Monday about his private initiative, which he claims has raised “$270,000 in cash pledges (including combined $40,000 from [his company] Potter Violins and from my private funds).”

Kelly’s rescue plan, however, is conditional upon the orchestra dismissing all of current management and appointing Kelly as interim president for a year, during which he would take no salary.  Kelly claims his proposal is supported by all of the orchestra’s musicians and conductor Piotr Gajewski.

It is not clear yet how, or if, the orchestra will reconcile the two funding options.

The National Philharmonic opens its 2019-2020 season with a concert featuring the Eroica Trio as soloists in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto on September 21 and 22, in the Music Center at Strathmore.


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