Rochester orchestra won’t return

Festival lost $200,000 in funding after Dallas Symphony Orchestra left

By Ruth Moon

VAIL, Colorado — After almost two decades in Vail, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will not be back in the valley next summer.

The Rochester Philharmonic, which has been a resident orchestra at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival for 19 of Bravo’s 21 years, will be replaced next year by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra due to financial and artistic reasons, Bravo! Executive Director John Giovando said.

The Rochester Philharmonic was the first out-of-state resident orchestra at the festival and was replaced for a year once in the past, by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The following year, both the Rochester Philharmonic and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra were resident orchestras, said David Angus, a French horn player who has been in Vail every summer with the Philharmonic.

“It’s not exactly vacation, because we’re working, but it’s very enjoyable to be here,” Angus said. “We’re hoping (the decision) doesn’t put us out of contention for the future.”

Giovando said the Bravo! board made the decision because of several factors including finances and recent staffing changes at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, but that the Rochester Philharmonic has been a favorite orchestra through the years.

“It’s been an incredible run for any orchestra in America,” Giovando said. “They’ve been a mainstay of our festival … they’ve served our community very well and we’ve served them.”

The Rochester Philharmonic had a contract with Bravo! through this year, Giovando said. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic will be the resident orchestras at the 2009 Bravo! festival.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which was an orchestra in residence at the Bravo! festival in 2006, recently named Jaap van Zweden as music director after several seasons without a director, which contributed to the decision, Giovando said.

Giovando said that Bravo! lost a total of almost $200,000 in funding over the last two years after rotating out the Dallas Symphony orchestra in 2007, which was another contributing factor in the decision to ask Dallas back next year.

“When we didn’t have Dallas here we saw a significant drop in contributions,” he said. “We lost Dallas support and didn’t get it back.”

Bravo! lost $110,000 in 2007 and $85,000 in 2008, he said.

The festival has not decided if the Rochester Philharmonic will be asked back after next summer, Giovando said.

Rochester Philharmonic Music Director Christopher Seaman said he and the orchestra will be sorry to leave the festival but will enjoy what may be their last summer of performances with Bravo!

“We’ll sure play our hearts out, as we always do, and there will be a little bit of bittersweet feeling because we’ll miss everybody,” he said. “We love Vail, and … we’ll miss you all.”

Orchestra member bassoonist Abe Weiss, who has performed with the Rochester Philharmonic in Vail every summer since they started, said the musicians feel a special interest in the festival because they have played at Bravo! for so many years. Although the decision might make sense as a business move, he said it still carries the sting of rejection.

“There are times you think ‘I’ve seen Vail, I don’t want to go back,’” he said. “On the other hand, even if you feel that way, when someone tells you they’re not asking you back, it still feels a little bit like rejection even when you don’t want to go back.”

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