The Philadelphia Orchestra is known for having many firsts. In 1997, it became the first major orchestra to give a live cybercast of a concert on the Internet. Nine years later, it was the first to offer downloads of music from its own website without a distributor and it became the first major U.S. orchestra to declare bankruptcy, April 16.
According to an email sent April 20 to the Drexel community, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark Greenberg said the institution was also one of the first to be included on the list of hot spots in Drexel’s Cultural Passport.
“Thanks to the Orchestra’s generosity, thousands of Drexel students over the years have attended concerts without charge through the Cultural Passport program,” he wrote.
However, the Orchestra is seeking Chapter 11 protection of the Bankruptcy Code, which means that the organization is freed from the threat of creditors’ lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances. The Orchestra’s reorganization plan must be accepted by a majority of the creditors, but it will remain in control of its business and its assets during the process.
“Although The Philadelphia Orchestra has no long-term debt, it is operating at a significant loss based upon declining ticket revenues, decreased donations, eroding endowment income, pension obligations, contractual agreements and increased operational costs. The decision to file will allow The Philadelphia Orchestra to continue to make incredible music while the organization and its finances are restructured,” a press release issued by the institution stated.
According to the Orchestra’s press release, all remaining concerts for the 2010-11 season will continue as planned.
“The Orchestra will survive, but it needs immediate help. As I see it from a Drexel perspective, a friend is in trouble,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg said Drexel students, such as freshmen who were given the Cultural Passport, should visit the Philadelphia Orchestra to help the cause.
“If you’ve been thinking about going, go soon. If you’ve gone often, go again,” he urged.
The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the many local organizations that students with a Cultural Passport can visit for free, although only for specific concerts. Usually students can buy rush tickets for $8 general admission, or $10 online, 90 minutes prior to the concert if they show their college ID.
The Philadelphia Orchestra also offers College Nights after certain performances with free activities, such as dancing and student recitals, complete with music and food.
Freshman mechanical engineering major Alex Sevit, who plays violin in a string ensemble that performs chamber music, said it’s a shame that the organization is forced to file for bankruptcy.
“I saw the email from the provost last week encouraging people to attend concerts to keep it alive. It’s really sad for me to see that because people in that orchestra are the best of the best and have worked their entire lives to get to that professional level,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I’ve only been to one concert this year which was a part of their free college concert series,” he added.
The performance he saw this past September featured famed violinist Joshua Bell performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Freshman chemical engineering major Devin Peck, who plays cello in a quartet ensemble on campus and also attended the same event, was disappointed to hear that the organization announced bankruptcy.
“I would like to see the orchestra in the future if there are any more free events or events available with the cultural passport because they were really good and worth the journey,” he said.
While the Philadelphia Orchestra’s financial future remains unclear, its relationship with Drexel University is decidedly not.
“The experience of live music in magnificent Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center is unforgettable. While you’ll be helping a friend of Drexel, you are also enriching your own life,” Greenberg said.
The next College Student Night is May 12 and will be held after a performance of Holst’s “The Planets.” Students can also get free tickets from the Cultural Passport to the May 13 performance of “Other Worlds?”.