Robert_Renee.pngWhen Renée Fleming joined the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine’s Merrill Auditorium on February 17, it was the first time the organization had held an endowment benefit concert. The orchestra, which recently announced cuts in staffing and programming as it confronts a challenging financial situation, raised $50,000 at the concert, making it the highest-grossing show in the history of the Merrill Auditorium. Among other orchestras recently announcing adjustments to their 2008-09 seasons was Connecticut’s Hartford Symphony, which has joined together with other area organizations to accept tickets from subscribers to the Connecticut Opera, which closed its doors on February 9. Opera patrons may exchange their tickets to one of two pops concerts and three Masterworks concerts at the Bushnell in Hartford, beginning with the March 7 pops concert featuring vocalist Anika Noni Rose. In South Carolina, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra has begun a fundraising partnership with, whereby orchestra patrons package and sell their old CDs, DVDs, and books to at upcoming CSO performances through an April 25 concert at Gaillard Auditorium. Abundatrade will donate 10 percent of proceeds from selling the music collections to the CSO. Rockford Symphony in Illinois announced that while it has not experienced major declines in revenue this fiscal year, it has taken of the precaution of changing its final performance of the season on April 25 to an all-orchestra concert, eliminating soloist and chorus expenses. Rockford is also asking the community to vote by March 1 on one of five symphonies to be played at that concert: Beethoven 6, Brahms 4, Haydn 103, Mozart 41, or Tchaikovsky 2.

Photo of Renée Fleming and Robert Moody courtesy of Portland Symphony Orchest