After some lean seasons, things are looking up for the Huntington Symphony Orchestra, says new board president Maurice A. Mufson, M.D.
For several years, the orchestra played a winter season of six concerts, but financial problems forced a cut to only three. This year, an improving fiscal situation has enabled the musical group to add a fourth concert, and Mufson says he's hopeful that next year might see the addition of a fifth concert. The group's ultimate goal, he says, will be a return to a full six-event season.
The orchestra, which plays at Huntington's historic Keith-Albee Theater, opened its 2013-2014 season with performances in October and December. Additional concerts are scheduled March 8 and April 5.
Each summer, the orchestra presents "Picnic With the Pops," a series of Pop music concerts at Huntington's Harris Riverfront Park. This summer the orchestra played to record crowds at concerts that featured nationally known West Virginia vocalists Mark McVey, a Huntington native, and Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. of Logan.
"This summer we had the best Pops season we've had in a long time," Mufson said. "And, importantly, we're attracting the additional financial support we need in order to build back up to what we used to have. We've paid off a loan we had taken out and covered our deficit."
Still, despite what Mufson calls "an amazing turn around" in the orchestra's financial picture, he emphasizes that additional support is needed if the group is to return to a full concert season.
"No symphony orchestra, large or small, can make ends meet on ticket sales alone," Mufson said, explaining that HSO's ticket sales account for only one-fifth of the orchestra's budget. Thus, it must depend on corporate support and individual donations to cover much of its budget.
The Symphony has a long history. It's performed since the 1930s in various forms, sometimes disbanding for several years and sometimes performing as a smaller "chamber" orchestra. According to a history posted on the HSO web site, some of the musicians who played with the orchestra in the 1950s are still playing with it today.
Kimo Furumoto, the music director and conductor of the Huntington Symphony, is an associate professor of music at California State University in Fullerton. In addition to regularly flying from California to West Virginia to lead the Huntington orchestra, he frequently makes guest conducting appearances throughout the United States and Europe.
For information about the Huntington Symphony Orchestra or to purchase tickets for its upcoming concerts, call 304-781-8343 or go online to www.huntingtonsymphony.org.