Orchestra supporters sound off on bankruptcy filing

By Jon Chrisos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Hundreds packed the Kentucky Center Saturday night for the opening night of the Nutcracker. The ballet is set to music performed by the Louisville Orchestra. It comes just one day after the orchestra filed for bankruptcy protection.

Despite these tough and uncertain times for the Louisville Orchestra, the show must go on. The tone behind the scenes may be different this year, but on stage the musicians hit every note and didn't miss a beat.

Instead of warming up for the show inside the Kentucky Center, Louisville Orchestra musicians stood outside in the cold tonight. They handed out one page pamphlets explaining their bankruptcy filing to the ballet fans. It urges show goers to enjoy the Nutcracker music because, "It may represent the last time what you know as the Louisville Orchestra will ever play it."

"They are so unique and so talented so definitely it would be devastating not to have them around," Dawn Nuckles said. She used to perform with the Louisville Ballet. This year, she's here to watch the show and listen to the orchestra with her daughters and some of their friends.

"It would be different because the tempo would be different. Other than that, it wouldn't be as realistic. The orchestra puts a live sense to the performance," Nuckles added.

Negotiations have been going on between the orchestra and the musicians since July, but they've yet to strike a deal that hits all the right notes for both sides.

"We're committed today to look at re-structuring and re-balancing this organization in a way that takes account for artistic excellence and fiscal sustainability," Louisville Orchestra CEO Robert Birman said.

Friday morning the Board of Directors filed for bankruptcy. Orchestra leaders say they need to tone down spending and trim its budget by a million dollars. That could mean lower pay, fewer weeks playing music, and 55 full time musicians, instead of 71.

"A 55 piece orchestra would not resemble the Louisville Orchestra," Union representative Kim Tichenor said.

For now, the music will continue. The musicians have been paid through December 15. What happens after that is still up in the air. Nutcracker performances are scheduled through the 19.

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