Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Leaving WSO 'out of the question,' Boreyko says

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THE Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's conductor has no intention of abandoning the debt-plagued organization.

"It's out of the question," said Russian conductor Andrey Boreyko, after it was revealed that he has contributed half of his last two months' salary to the orchestra's cause.

"Most important is the musicians. They are like my family. And these are not just beautiful words."

Boreyko, who has a busy career conducting top orchestras in Europe, responded to speculation about his loyalty to the orchestra following a press conference yesterday to announce the remainder of the WSO concert program for the 2003-04 season.

"I can't leave at the moment; they need my support," said Boreyko.

Marketing director Marnie Grona said that any public perception that Boreyko has not been actively involved in trying to solve WSO problems is false.

"He has been in town as much as (former artistic director) Bramwell Tovey was," Grona said. "It's just that Bramwell had a different personality."

The head of the WSO's interim management committee (IMC) said she was optimistic that a long-delayed $250,000 loan from the federal Canadian Heritage Department would come through in time for the musicians' final paycheque May 30.

"It has been approved," Patti Sullivan said. "We're waiting for it to flow."

As of June 1, she said, administrative staff will return to their full salaries, while the musicians do not get paid again until September, as per their contract.

In late March, staff and musicians accepted a 20 per cent cut as part of an $800,000 plan to keep the orchestra afloat until the May 31 fiscal year end.

The accumulated deficit is expected to reach $3.3 million, more than half the annual operating budget.

Sullivan also said that the IMC had contracted the accounting firm of Ernst & Young to prepare a WSO business plan, which is due for submission to the province and other stakeholders by mid-June.

The IMC has begun a search for a WSO executive director and has agreed to participate in forthcoming sets of consultations with a grassroots group of WSO subscribers, Friends of Music.

A subscription renewal campaign is set to roll out in the coming weeks, Sullivan said, with a goal of increasing the subscriber base by 15 per cent to 10,000 season-ticket holders.

Grona said that ticket sales goal has already been surpassed for this weekend's final concerts of the year, which Boreyko will conduct tomorrow and Saturday nights at the Centennial Concert Hall and Sunday in Brandon.

In the 2,300-seat Winnipeg venue, attendance reached 1,300 and 1,600 last Friday and Saturday respectively, Grona said, and single-ticket sales for both nights, again with Boreyko conducting, were a total of 36 per cent above budget.

For next year, Grona said, subscribers can renew at current rates, but otherwise prices have been increased five per cent overall.

Among next year's highlights will be Tovey's return in February to conduct a program of British compositions featuring guest pianist Marc Andre Hamelin.

An early WSO music director, Victor Feldbrill, has been booked to conduct a program of Bruch and Brahms next March.

Respected Polish-American conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski will conduct Beethoven's Eroica in late November, and Boreyko himself will conduct Mahler's grand Symphony No. 3 in mid-April, 2004.

The two Classics series have been renamed Masterworks and City Classics. There will be six pairs of Masterworks concerts, six Saturday evening and four Friday matinee concertos of City Classics, six Thursday evening matinee Musically Speaking concerts, seven weekends of three concerts each for the WSO Pops (featuring the newly appointed principal pops conductor Jeff Tyzik, six Sunday family concerts and four Brandon concerts.

morley.walker@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 22, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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