October 18, 2012



(PORTLAND, Ore.) – Today Oregon Symphony Board Chair Terry Pancoast announced a number of important changes that would be effective immediately.

“Like all performing arts organizations in this region and beyond, the Symphony struggles with a structural deficit created by the disparity between the ability to offer musical experiences of the very highest caliber and the simultaneous inability to attract the financial support necessary to cover the costs of providing those extraordinary musical experiences.

“And while we are proud of our three-year string of balanced budgets, we also recognize that all too often year-end balanced budgets are achieved in ways that are simply not sustainable— in the case of the Symphony’s recent year-end successes, by receiving unexpected bequests or last-minute donations from generous patrons.

“Because so much of our future funding from major foundations depends on our ability to reach the end of the year in the black, it is not prudent to assume that such legacy gifts will continue to appear. 

“As a result, we are taking a number of steps to demonstrate our commitment to remaining debt-free and our determination to live within our means.  The strength of that determination and our willingness to do whatever is necessary make me very confident in the future health and strength of this institution.”

Those actions occur on both the revenue and expense sides of the ledger.
In an effort to bolster the revenue side, a number of important steps have already been taken.  The Symphony has hired of one of the area’s leading fundraisers to head up the development team; Music Director Carlos Kalmar substituted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for the previously scheduled Britten’s War Requiem; and the legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins was added to the season slate.  Additionally, the staff will continue to pursue adding additional engagements to the season when the risk assessment indicates the likelihood of financial reward and the dates are available at the hall, even if such dates occur in the summer when the Symphony is normally preparing for the next season. 

On the expense side a number of reductions have also been made:  the elimination of three staff positions and an administrative staff salary reduction of 4% for staffmembers who receive compensation above a certain baseline.  Additional cost savings include a request to the orchestra to assist in expense reductions as well as the cancellation of the orchestra’s planned Carnegie Hall performance in May.

Mr. Pancoast noted that cancelling the Carnegie Hall appearance was a very difficult choice.  “Our debut at Carnegie in 2011 was such a tremendous success,” he said, “and our musicians, board and staff were extremely excited to return.  However, it does not seem appropriate to take our musicians across the country to perform for New York audiences when we will have made so many other sacrifices to cut costs.  Our mission is to perform great music here at home for our local and regional audience, and we’re best served by focusing on that core mission at this time.”

That does not mean, however, that classical music lovers beyond the regional reach of the Oregon Symphony will not be able to enjoy the exquisite work of Carlos Kalmar and the talented Oregon Symphony musicians. Plans for recordings during the 2012/13 season to be used for subsequent radio broadcasts and the third PentaTone CD under Music Director Carlos Kalmar are unaffected.  The board felt that the importance of both the broadcasts and the CD to the musicians and the larger community warrant their inclusion in this season’s expenses.

Music Director Carlos Kalmar, commenting on these changes said:  “While I am understandably disappointed at the cancellation of our Carnegie appearance, I have great confidence in the future of the Oregon Symphony and in the continued growth of the orchestra’s artistic excellence.”



Jim Fullan
Vice President, Communications, Marketing & Sales