Musicians remain loyal to orchestra in hard times


POSTED: Monday, December 21, 2009

Honolulu Symphony orchestra members gathered at the Blaisdell Concert Hall yesterday to show their support for keeping the orchestra going despite the symphony's bankruptcy filing.

“;We're doing everything that we can to stick together,”; said Steve Dinion, chairman of the musicians' Orchestra Committee. “;It's been very difficult.”;

The Honolulu Symphony filed for bankruptcy Friday, reporting debts of between $1 million and $10 million.

Last month, the symphony announced it was canceling its 2009 concert schedule, leaving its 64 full-time and about 25 part-time musicians without jobs.

;[Preview]  Musicians speak out on bankruptcy

The Honolulu Symphony Musicians are disappointed and have grave concerns about the bankruptcy.

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Dinion said in September musicians had accepted a 15 percent pay cut to save $500,000 and help the symphony continue.

“;We completely disagree with their decision to file bankruptcy,”; Dinion said. “;We're extremely disappointed and disheartened.”;

Now some musicians like Dinion, a percussionist, are giving private lessons to survive and some are on unemployment.

They last got a paycheck in October, and their health insurance ended at the beginning of last month.

“;It's very hard for people to hold on,”; Dinion said. “;We're hoping that some other solution can be found that keeps music going.”;

He said having a symphony keeps a community of professional musicians on the island, providing music for the opera theater and ballet, and instruction for the Hawaii Youth Symphony and University of Hawaii's music department.

“;If this goes on, we're going to lose many of us because we won't be able to ... survive here,”; he said.

Despite the problems, orchestra members are performing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony Sunday in a free concert to express their appreciation to the community, Dinion said.

Tickets to the performance are no longer available.

According to court documents filed by the symphony in Bankruptcy Court, the box office accounts for only 30 percent of its budget.

The symphony said while under bankruptcy protection, it hopes to boost its fundraising activities and provide a more stable financial platform before reinstating its musical program.

Yesterday, the musicians finished their first contracted work since October—a weekend performance for Ballet Hawaii's “;The Nutcracker.”; Orchestra members don't have another gig until late January with the Hawaii Opera Theatre.

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