Arkansas Symphony musicians commission new work—and dedicate it to the board

Posted on: April 10, 2014

In Sunday’s (4/6) Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock; subscription required), Eric Harrison writes that seven years ago, the Arkansas Symphony was “spending more money than it was bringing in.” Following a series of “painful budget cuts,” board members “increased their annual contributions … [and] better and smarter marketing, plus a charismatic new conductor [Philip Mann], helped put more patrons into the seats.” In 2010, the board “decided to give the musicians a bonus. They couldn’t fully restore the pay cuts but … came up with about $10,000 and told the players they could do whatever they wanted with it.… The musicians commissioned a brand-new piece of music. In a move that may be unique, they dedicated it—to the board. ‘In my experience, it’s unprecedented,’ says Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. ‘The musicians have made an extraordinary sacrifice.’ ” Among others, the article quotes Christina Littlejohn, the ASO’s executive director since 2010, on what it took to restore the orchestra’s finances. The world premiere of the commissioned work—The Wind and Petit Jean by Christopher Theofanidis—will take place on April 12 and 13. Following the April concerts the ASO will move to temporary venues for two years while its regular hall is renovated.

Posted April 10, 2014

Pictured: The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Philip Mann