Memphis Symphony finds financial success in alignment with community

Posted on: June 27, 2011

In Friday’s (6/24) Memphis Business Journal (Subscription required), Cole Epley writes, “At a time when many urban symphony orchestras across the nation are in danger of playing the sounds of silence instead of Stravinsky or Shostakovich, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra has a valuable lesson to teach. Under the tutelage of music director Mei-Ann Chen and the direction of CEO Ryan Fleur, the organization has positioned itself at the forefront of a movement which more closely aligns symphonies with the communities in which they perform. The goal is not as much about playing classical music as it is about becoming an integral, indispensable part of the community. It’s a formula that appears to be working. From fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2011, the orchestra experienced a 45 percent increase in the number of single tickets sold. It played seven sold-out concerts to an audience that traditionally doesn’t fill concert halls and overall contributions were up 20 percent from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2011—increasing from $2.1 million to more than $2.5 million. … Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, cites the organization’s willingness to innovate and to think and work outside the box to establish and maintain relevance in a community that is again beginning to embrace its orchestra. ‘It’s about a closer alignment among what an orchestra does and a community’s needs and interests. Memphis has been very much at the forefront of that,’ Rosen says.”

Posted June 27, 2011