The Philadelphia Orchestra files for bankruptcy

April 16, 2011

Leopold Stokowski served as the Philadelphia Orchestra's music director from 1912 to 1941.

The Philadelphia Orchestra, one of the world’s leading symphonic ensembles with a storied history of legendary conductors, has filed for bankruptcy.

The orchestra’s board of directors announced Saturday that they decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection based upon the “rapidly dwindling operating funds” and a deficit of $14.5 million. Although The Philadelphia Orchestra has no long-term debt, it is operating at a significant loss based upon declining ticket revenues, decreased donations, eroding endowment income, pension obligations, contractual agreements, and increased operational costs.

In a released statement, the orchestra said that all remaining concerts of the current season will continue as scheduled while the organization and its finances are restructured.

“We have made the difficult, but necessary, decision to enter into a reorganization process,” said Richard B. Worley, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association’s board, in a released statement. “Faced with such substantial financial challenges beyond the growing structural deficit and a lack of additional operational funds available to the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Board of Directors has chosen this path as the best means to help reset our financial obligations. This is a first step forward toward financial health and stability for this great Orchestra.”

In addition to the POA Board of Directors voting to restructure, the Boards of Directors for the Academy of Music (AOM), a subsidiary of the POA, and Encore Series Incorporated (ESI), the non-profit agency under the POA that presents the Peter Nero and the Philly Pops concert series, have also voted today to enter into reorganization. All three entities filed jointly in United States Bankruptcy Court.

Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra has enjoyed a legendary history and roster of celebrated  music directors, including  Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, and Wolfgang Sawallisch. Yannick Nézet-Séguin is slated to take the baton as The Philadelphia Orchestra’s next music director in 2012.

“This orchestra is an icon of Philadelphia and an international treasure,” said Allison Vulgamore, president and chief executive officer of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association. “Its presence is vital to the city’s reputation and more, it is a keystone of the Center City district, with its many businesses and cultural institutions. We are committed to sustaining this world-class jewel and we have a strategic plan that will move the Orchestra forward with vision and purpose.

“While there is much work to be done, we are well-prepared to execute this plan and we are confident that it will allow us to successfully emerge from this process.”

The Orchestra announced Saturday that it will launch “Listen with Your Heart,” a public fundraising campaign to help raise donations and public support to ensure the orchestra’s future.

For more information regarding The Philadelphia Orchestra, its current concert season, and its history, visit

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