Mid-Shore Sym­phony So­ci­ety halts op­er­a­tions

Record Observer - - Arts & Entertainment - By JACK SHAUM jshaum@kibay­times.com

WYE MILLS — Af­ter 45 con­sec­u­tive years of pre­sent­ing Bal­ti­more Sym­phony Orches­tra con­certs on the East­ern Shore, the MidShore Sym­phony So­ci­ety has sus­pended op­er­a­tions and the out­look for re­sum­ing op­er­a­tions is not promis­ing.

“The ba­sic is­sue be­comes cost,” said Pete Dilling­ham of Rock Hall, who re­cently re­tired as So­ci­ety pres­i­dent af­ter 10 years. He said it costs the So­ci­ety $25,000 per con­cert to bring the orches­tra to the Todd Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege, where it has per­formed for many years.

He said fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties be­gan back in 2008 and that over time, 18 per­cent of sub­scribers and donors to the So­ci­ety have left for one rea­son or an­other and that while oth­ers re­placed them, there were “never re­ally enough to meet the crit­i­cal mass.”

The So­ci­ety is funded by ticket sales, do­na­tions and grants from the arts coun­cils of the Mid-Shore coun­ties and the Mary­land State Arts Coun­cil, but Dilling­ham said of the arts coun­cils that “there’s only so much they can do.” At the end of the most re­cent 20152016 con­cert sea­son, the So­ci­ety had a $7,500 debt to the orches­tra, he said.

This past sea­son, iron­i­cally, was a good one for the So­ci­ety, he said, be­cause it opened with the al­ways pop­u­lar hol­i­day per­for­mance of Han­del’s “Mes­siah,” fol­lowed soon there­after by a con­cert fea­tur­ing BSO Mu­sic Di­rec­tor Marin Al­sop. Even so, the 897-seat con­cert hall at the col­lege was not full for ei­ther con­cert, ac­cord­ing to Dilling­ham. And while the num­ber of walk-up con­cert at­ten­dees has in­creased re­cently, most are not donors, he added.

BSO con­certs have drawn peo­ple from Kent, Queen Anne’s, Tal­bot, Caro­line and Dorch­ester coun­ties as well as from Sal­is­bury, Seaford, Del., Dover, Del., and An­napo­lis. One cou­ple, he said, used to come all the way from Tow­son. Con­cert go­ers have said they en­joyed at­tend­ing con­certs at the col­lege be­cause it is easy to reach and has free park­ing, he said.

Dilling­ham said the BSO has been “very good to us,” and has not in­creased the $25,000 cost of con­certs for the past decade even though he was told by the for­mer BSO pres­i­dent that the ac­tual cost to the orches­tra of putting on the con­certs is closer to $42,000.

“The BSO stan­dard never changed — the mu­sic was great, the se­lec­tion of com­po­si­tions was fantastic. It met ev­ery­body’s ex­pec­ta­tions,” he said, not­ing that the orches­tra is play­ing more on week­ends “and those week­ends are not avail­able to us on the Shore.”

An­other fac­tor is that the 85-year-old Dilling­ham has re­cently stepped down as So­ci­ety pres­i­dent, cit­ing per­sonal rea­sons, and that so far it has been dif­fi­cult to find a suc­ces­sor within the or­ga­ni­za­tion or out­side of it. A num­ber of board mem­bers said they would con­tinue to serve, but look­ing ahead, he said that “I don’t see that it’s got a fu­ture” un­less some­one can come for­ward who has the abil­ity to re­sus­ci­tate it.

Nancy Cook of Queen­stown, a re­tired mu­sic teacher, has been the So­ci­ety’s sec­re­tary for many years and agreed with Dilling­ham that the BSO has been “good to us fi­nan­cially.” She said the arts coun­cils have also been good to the or­ga­ni­za­tion and that the de­ci­sion to sus­pend op­er­a­tions is a big dis­ap­point­ment.

Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege has been a good part­ner, she added, and has made a num­ber of im­prove­ments to its con­cert hall over the years that have greatly ben­e­fit­ted the orches­tra con­certs.

Cook said there used to be six con­cert so­ci­eties around the state that put on BSO con­certs and that the Mid-Shore Sym­phony So­ci­ety is the last of them.

“It’s been a priv­i­lege to work with Pete. We’ve worked well to­gether, and his lead­er­ship of (the So­ci­ety) has been won­der­ful,” she said.


The Bal­ti­more Sym­phony Orches­tra has been spon­sored on the East­ern Shore by the Mid-Shore Sym­phony So­ci­ety for 45 con­sec­u­tive years, but the So­ci­ety has sus­pended op­er­a­tions, cit­ing fi­nan­cial is­sues as the main rea­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.