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VOL. 129 | NO. 71 | Friday, April 11, 2014

Fundraising Help for Orchestra Continues

By Andy Meek

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The Kickstarter campaign to raise at least $25,000 for the financially struggling Memphis Symphony Orchestra has beaten its goal, pulling in a little more than $28,500.

A Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra beat its goal this week. Meanwhile, other chances for the public to get involved are around the corner.  

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

That’s one example among many of how, once the orchestra’s dire straits became known earlier this year, supporters have been lining up to come to the rescue. And more chances for the public to help are still to come.

Amro Music, for example, is holding a silent auction and sale at its Poplar Avenue store next week to benefit the orchestra, which earlier this year disclosed the degree of the financial crisis that, in the worst-case scenario, threatened to sink the organization.

The orchestra faced a short-term and long-term problem: secure enough funding to complete its current season, then figure out a sustainable financial model to pay for future seasons. At the end of January, the symphony announced that it’s taking “aggressive steps” on expenses and revenue to offset depleted reserves that declined as a result of a mix of factors including fans attending classical music concerts less often.

The Kickstarter campaign’s total haul came from 272 backers, with most contributing between $50 and $100. The largest contributions to the Kickstarter came from two backers who gave at least $2,500.

Amro’s shelves and walls are packed with instruments for sale and rent, and the venerable Memphis music retailer has been a longtime supporter of the orchestra, so its involvement in helping raise funds for the orchestra was a natural move. The silent auction April 15 will include art-case instruments decorated by local artists and musicians, along with restaurant gift certificates and more.

Steinway pianos also will be for sale, many of which were used in performances at prominent arts festivals. Steinway & Sons’ New York headquarters is shipping the instruments for the event, and part of the proceeds of their sale will go to the orchestra.

Amro general manager CJ Averwater said, in explaining the store’s involvement, that Amro takes pride in helping foster music appreciation to young area musicians via its instrument supplies, but that “there’s no substitute for the inspiration that (the orchestra) provides.”

The event is open to the public and has been arranged with help from MSO oboist Joseph Salvalaggio. As well as attendees being able to enjoy wine and cheese, the program will include excerpts from Schubert's “Arpeggione Sonata” for cello and piano and Mozart's “Oboe Quartet in F Major.”

“We’re so grateful to everyone at Amro for their help through this difficult time,” said Chris James, the chairman of the orchestra’s musician’s committee.

Meanwhile, the Eyewear Gallery store at 428 Perkins Road Extended also is hosting a fundraiser for the orchestra next week. The store, where several MSO musicians are patients, is hosting its event April 15 and 16 and will include live performances.

The event is a trunk show fundraiser and will include representatives from exclusive designer eyewear lines, including Tom Ford, Prada and Tory Burch. Live music will be featured both days, plus exclusive discounts and other offers.

Beyond these coming events, orchestra musicians have been performing intimate, small shows around town to continue ginning up awareness and support for the orchestra’s situation. One of the most recent was April 4 at the Downtown Hard Rock Café, with ticket prices benefiting the orchestra.

Performers for that event included the orchestra’s acoustic string group, plus singers Grace Askew, Alicja Trout and Harlan T. Bobo.

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