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Philadelphia Orchestra not out of the woods yet

Posted: November 23, 2015




You might assume that the Philadelphia Orchestra today is benefiting from a popular music director, an economic climate greatly improved since the Great Recession, and the good fortune of living cheek to cheek with a growing - and affluent - downtown population.

Yet this trio of assets has not been enough to buoy some key measures of the orchestra's health. Board Chairman Richard B. Worley diagnosed the core concern at the Philadelphia Orchestra Association's recent annual meeting: Concert attendance between September and May fell again last season - to 153,000 paid listeners in 2014-15 from 160,000 the season before. The goal had been 189,000.

"I don't know if it's because the audience isn't here, or the audience is here and we don't know how to reach them," Worley said at the gathering of board members, musicians, and interested others. On average, Verizon Hall was filled to just 76 percent of capacity with paying listeners for the orchestra's 84 main subscription concerts. (An additional 9,000 student passes were sold through the eZseatU program.)


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