Friday, April 1, 2011

The Syracuse Symphony

Last Friday evening Bob and I went to the Civic Center for a performance of the orchestra with Elliot Fisk, guitarist, and JoAnn Falletta, guest conductor. We had seen Fisk before - he graduated from Jamesville-Dewitt and so came back here on occasion. His wife joined him, a brilliant flower in the midst of all the black and white. Ms. Falletta is the conductor of the Buffalo Symphony. Our tickets had been graciously given to us by two of my clients. We had looked forward to going all year. The performance was wonderful - absolutely entrancing. We sat in the first row of the balcony and just enjoyed, but also worried that the people around us seemed to be older than we had remembered in the past. The audience was aging. But then, so were we. After the Intermission Ms. Falletta gave an impassioned speech addressing the financial woes of the Symphony. She begged the audience "Don't let them go" meaning the musicians. In the silence that followed a woman spoke up quite clearly, but not meaning to be heard "The symphony and museums make Syracuse bearable." There was an intake of breath, and the orchestra began playing, drowning out all our thoughts - sort of. A few days later it was all over. The Symphony members and the Board could not find a reasonable way to continue, and the season was cancelled. This was the 50th Anniversary season - Yo-Yo Ma would not be coming. Sales would not be refunded - purchasers were directed to send their requests to the Attorney General. I grew up with the Symphony. As a little girl I watched my best friend's father, Dr. Ian Henderson, play master-of-ceremonies for the annual school production. We were there the day Kennedy was assassinated. My parents always went to the symphony, I believe at Central Tech now the Greystone Building. My teachers - Elizabeth Mann, Mr. Schermerhorn - played in the orchestra, as did Alex's strings teacher from Skaneateles. I can't believe it's gone and won't be revived. It was such a gift to the community. While I totally disagree with the elderly woman who so inopportunely expressed her opinion, I do know that for many people of her age the Symphony's performances were a high point. This means they won't be playing in Skaneateles the third week in July, or at Emerson Park for the 4th with the William Tell Overture reverberating across the water. Sad. Very, very sad.