Hurricane Benefit Concert Updates

It’s time for an update regarding some of the benefit concerts which have taken place in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina…


Elgin Symphony
The orchestra confirms raising approximately $37,000 from those in attendance with additional donations coming in after the event. In the end, they anticipate a much higher result as a result of a phone-a-thon held in conjunction with the concert. The orchestra musicians also responded to the cause with nearly 100% of them donating their services and time. WFMT broadcast the concert nationwide to an estimated 75,000 listeners in Chicago, Washington State, Montana, New York, North Dakota, and Texas.

Seattle Symphony
The orchestra raised $45,000 which they donated directly to the American Red Cross. Everyone involved in the concert event (including Gerard Schwarz, cellist Lynn Harrell, the musicians, ushers, stage crew, and staff) donated their time and expertise to produce the concert. Local media and businesses donated their services as well. The Seattle Symphony management reports that many new people from their community attended the concert, including a number of young adults and families. The Seattle Times reviewed the event.

Houston Symphony
The orchestra reports that they are still tabulating receipts and donations from the concert which was well attended given the fact that the city was in the beginning stages of evacuating for Hurricane Rita. The event was reviewed in the Houston Chronicle.

In a peculiar twist of fate, this benefit concert was the last performance before they cancelled their concerts for the following weekend. Fortunately, HSO executive director, Matthew VanBesien, reports that that all are safe at the Houston Symphony and there is no damage to Jones Hall. Upon returning, the orchestra has reinstated their regularly scheduled concerts.

Stay Tuned
More concerts are planned in the near future including the anxiously anticipated reuniting of the Louisiana Philharmonic in Nashville, TN., sponsored by the Nashville Symphony. If there are any other orchestras with details from their own hurricane benefit concert, please send them in.

In the meantime, you can keep tabs on many benefit concerts and recital events at the Upcoming Benefit Concerts & Relief Efforts For Gulf Coast Region Ensembles page (don’t forget to check the “comments” on the bottom of the page, many smaller benefit events and recitals are posted there).

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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