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Symphony Suspends 2012-13 Season

The Santa Monica Symphony Association says it intends to return the year after at a new venue—and with a new conductor.

The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra will suspend next year's concert season to give the organization time to fundraise, the Santa Monica Symphony Association announced Monday.

It is the first suspension in its 67 year history, according to David Bendett, chairman of the association's Board of Directors.

"We have decided that we want to continue, but need the funding to do so and will use this coming year to try and reach that goal," he said.

The announcement read:

To ensure the survival of this important cultural asset for the Southern California Westside community, it must recapitalize and have time to raise additional funds with the objective of returning for the 2013-2014 concert season.

Upon its return, the symphony plans to switch venues to Barnum Hall at because of the indefinite closure of Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in June 2013. The Civic’s impending closure, made by the city in response to its loss of redevelopment agency, did not play a part in the decision to suspend the 2012-13 season, Bendett wrote in an email.

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Long-time conductor and music director, Allen Robert Gross, will not return.

Bendett said the conductor, who was credited with elevating the Santa Monica Symphony to one of the leading community orchestras in the nation, received a no-confidence vote from the board.

"He will be missed and the association greatly appreciates his tenure and his contributions to the growth and achievements of the orchestra and to the Westside community," the announcement read.

The Santa Monica Symphony made its debut in 1945. With a repertoire of classical and contemporary music, it presents four free concerts each season to audiences of 5,000, according to its website.  

It has previously received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and was one of only 64 orchestras in the country to receive a grant under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The city of Santa Monica and county of Los Angeles County provide funds, and it also relies on contributions from private donors.

Top tier and small symphonies have decided to go out of business in recent years by filing bankruptcy protection, and in just the last couple of weeks, the Napa Valley Symphony decided to call it quits after 79 years, according to Bendett.

The Pacific Shores Philharmonic, however, just decided to re-schedule its upcoming season, he noted. "Every organization must do what they feel is best," Bendett said.

When asked how much money was needed to keep intact the 2013-14 season, Bendett said, "an exact figure has not been determined."

Correction: This article was updated at 9:50 a.m. Aug.  21, 2012 to correct the spelling of Barnum Hall.

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Glenn E Grab August 21, 2012 at 04:23 PM
why not use the Eli Broad Theater?....it's sitting empty most of the time...
Glenn E Grab August 21, 2012 at 04:26 PM
SAMO High School also hasc a pretty good Auditorium, way better than the Santa Monica Civic, which has awful accoustics...
Glenn E Grab August 21, 2012 at 04:39 PM
what is really happening is a reforming of the orchestra....their fixed costs are too high...
Jerry Rubin August 21, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Very sad that our beloved Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra is canceling its season. It is also sad that we won't be able to revitalize our wonderful Civic Auditorium this year as planned. Thank you, Jerry Rubin
Glenn E Grab August 24, 2012 at 04:39 PM
the orchestra is saddled with union requirements and tenured players....the union used to pay part of the players' salaries, through a trust fund...the trust fund dried up a few years ago, but the union members are tenured into the orchestra, the orchestra must pay not only their wages, but also SDI, Health and Welfare, Unemployment insurance, etc....my guess is that the orchestra will fold, and later combine with another, non-union community symphony, under a different name...
Glenn E Grab August 24, 2012 at 04:42 PM
what I'm saying isn't a condemnation of the players or the orchestra board, it's just my take on the situation....it's probably the only way the group can survive..
gina October 10, 2012 at 06:52 AM
While waiting for the SM symphony to reorg, everyone is invited to the free concerts of the Brentwood Westwood Symphony, held in Brentwood, on Sunset Blvd west of the 405, at the University Synagogue. First concert is Oct 28, Sunday, at 3 pm. Please join us! More info can be found on www.bwso.org

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