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Silence falls on the Santa Clarita Symphony

Posted: December 10, 2008 10:06 p.m.
Updated: December 11, 2008 4:59 a.m.

Santa Clarita Symphony maestro Robert E. Lawson conducts the orchestra during a recent appearance at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons.

Members of the local arts community were disappointed to learn Santa Clarita Symphony officials cancelled the 2009 season Wednesday due to a sour economy.

"I just think it's unfortunate," said Sherry Klahs, chairwoman for the city's Arts Advisory Committee.

Klahs understands the "tremendous" amount of support nonprofit organizations require to thrive.

"It's truly unfortunate the symphony finds itself in this kind of position," she said.

She hopes the group of 75 musicians will regroup and return.

In a statement, the symphony, established in 2000, cited declining ticket sales and a drastic decline in individual and corporate donor contributions.

The decision means the group withdrew its participation in the Jan. 11 Art Garfunkel concert at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center. The Art Garfunkel concert will go on with Garfunkel's own musical backup group. The symphony has also postponed its annual Family Concert scheduled for April 2009.

The news comes as the Pasadena Symphony recently announced concert cancellations and layoffs, the release said.

"We are not going away," said John Dow, symphony marketing director. "However, it is unlikely we will (be) putting a symphony orchestra on the stage any time soon."

Symphony officials plan to introduce a Cafe Series focused on producing smaller performances in intimate settings, Dow said.

The symphony will also continue its Bon Appetit series, which pairs a concert with an upscale dinner.

The Children's Instrument Petting Zoo will continue while symphony officials find a sponsor for the event that promotes early childhood music education.

"This is a sad commentary on how the economic downturn is affecting the arts and our community," said Adam Philipson, managing director of the Performing Arts Center, in a statement.

"We know the founders, leaders and supporters of the Santa Clarita Symphony will take this time to regroup and come back to continue the wonderful work they've been doing for the past five years."

Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar, a strong supporter of arts in Santa Clarita, echoed Philipson's feelings.

"I think that's terribly unfortunate," he said.

The symphony has done a "phenomenal" job in the community, considering its limited resources, he said.

"I will be an active participant in doing whatever I can to support the symphony," he said.


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