For Immediate Release: October 4, 2017
Media Contacts: Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, email@example.com
RPO’S 95TH SEASON OPENS ON A HIGH NOTE
Balanced budget for 2016/17; Ticket sales/contributions up significantly
New Pres. & CEO Curt Long leads RPO into 2017/18 fiscal year
Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) closed its books on a highly successful 2016/17 season while opening its 95th season with a trio of outstanding programs that reflect its commitment to providing excellent symphonic music to the community: Itzhak Perlman on Tuesday, September 12; Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik’s A cELLAbration: The Music of Ella and More on Friday and Saturday, September 15 and 16; and Grieg’s Piano Concerto + Cinderella with Music Director Ward Stare on September 21 and 23.
On September 1, Orchestra management also transitioned smoothly to new President and Chief Executive Officer Curt Long from Ralph Craviso, who was appointed Interim President & CEO in 2015 (later dropping the “Interim” from his title) to assist the Orchestra in a financial turnaround.
The news about that turnaround is also exceptional: the RPO’s five-year financial plan has achieved a balanced budget for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2017 (the first year of that five-year plan, which was developed under Craviso’s leadership) for the first time in six years. The foundation of that plan included improvements in fundraising as well as in expanded programming – including concerts involving films, video games, etc. – to bring in new audiences. It also relied on ongoing contract concessions by the RPO musicians.
The results are extremely encouraging. This past season’s ticket sales were up by 20%, reflecting an increase of 10% more subscribers and 30% more individual concert patrons. Public support followed suit: the RPO saw an increase of 25% in fundraising during 2016/17, including a season-ending, matching-gift Summer Challenge campaign that exceeded its $200,000 goal.
“This is the first step of a journey that will hopefully take this world-class orchestra to long-term financial stability,” explains Ingrid Stanlis, newly voted chairperson of the RPO Board of Directors. “We owe a great debt to Ralph Craviso and outgoing Board Chair Jules Smith for their exceptional work through this process. With the excellent artistic leadership provided by Music Director Ward Stare as well as Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, and the recent appointment of Curt Long with his 24 years of success managing symphony orchestras, the Board is confident that we will continue to advance that five-year plan.”
This upward trajectory – along with the stellar reputation of the RPO – is what drew Long from his post as president of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra (ASO), where he increased ticket revenues by more than 70 percent. During his tenure there, he also oversaw the ASO make its Carnegie Hall debut, release a limited-pressing recording of commissioned works, engage Carlos Izcaray as new Music Director, expand education programs both in Greater Birmingham and in underserved rural communities throughout Alabama, and successfully launch the Sound Edge Festival.
“I am excited to assume this leadership role and my family and I look forward to becoming part of the Rochester community,” says Long. “Even as we celebrate the start of a wonderful turnaround for the RPO, we also need to remember that there is much work yet to be done as we enter the second year of our five-year plan. We need to continue to grow audiences and – like most orchestras around the country,
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which generate more than half their revenue from contributions – continue to rely upon the generosity of this supportive community in order to serve Greater Rochester with excellent and ever-evolving programs that engage, entertain, and educate.”
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. 12th Music Director Ward Stare joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 23-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first endowed position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches more than 16,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.
Media please note: High-resolution images of 2017/18 concerts are available at http://ow.ly/m3P3308INu4 and upon request, and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.