Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra files for bankruptcy

— The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra has suspended concerts for 45 days after filing a bankruptcy notice in court.

"It saddens us to take these severe actions but we do so with the greatest hope for recovery," said Larry Fichtner, chairman of the orchestra board. "While we want to keep the music alive, it will take the collaboration of many."

Tuesday's move is the latest in a series of steps the orchestra has taken in recent years to try to rid itself of debt that now totals more than 1 million Canadian dollars ($650,000 U.S.).

Musicians agreed to a pay cut last year to help the board try to break even, and some attended Fichtner's news conference to complain about the circumstances.

"How do you expect us to trust the board now?" violist Arthur Bachmann asked.

Under the bankruptcy filing, a court-appointed interim official is drawing up a new business plan for the rest of the season. Fichtner said the plan includes a smaller orchestra that will conduct fewer performances, and a reduced administrative staff.

Last month, the orchestra board warned it needed another 2,000 season ticket subscribers above the 3,000 it already secured. An aggressive advertising gained only 800 new patrons, Fichtner said.

The Calgary orchestra is one of several in Canada facing financial problems.

Last year, musicians with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra agreed to a 15 percent pay cut, while Vancouver Symphony Orchestra members agreed to a 9 percent salary reduction.


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