September 12, 2011

Dear Friends,

gclef.jpgMany of you have heard the news that Syracuse University is involved in a plan to form a new orchestra called the Syracuse Philharmonic. While this news is encouraging, very few details have been made available to the general public. I wanted to take a moment and write to let you know what has been shared with the musicians so far. 

The Syracuse Philharmonic is still in the development stages, but a five year phased plan has been proposed for the orchestra. As part of the plan, Syracuse University intends to found a Center for Live Music in the 21st Century to offer support for developing music organizations, and its first client would be the Syracuse Philharmonic. The assets of the SSO, including the library, would be held and possibly even donated to the Setnor School of Music at SU. Under the proposed plan, artistic planning would be done by Daniel Hege and members of SU’s new center.

Initially, Daniel Hege and a director of operations would be full-time employees and administrators. In the second year of the plan, a director of development and patron services, and director of operations and personnel would be hired. While the plan is vague, no full-time musicians are slated to be hired for up to two years, and there would be no guaranteed minimum salary for the musicians who remain in Syracuse during that time.

Beginning in the third year, some musicians would be hired on a full-time basis, and some graduate students from the university would begin to perform with the Philharmonic. In the fourth year, some additional full-time staff and musicians would be hired. The plan also calls for recent graduates of major music schools from around the country to begin performing with the Philharmonic as part of a new training program. The Syracuse Philharmonic would be a mixed orchestra consisting of full and part-time professional musicians, training program fellows, and graduate students from Syracuse University.
Unfortunately, none of the former SSO musicians were included in the development of the proposed plan, and the first time the musicians learned of the plan was the same day it was released to the Post-Standard. While there are some positive aspects of the proposed plan, there are areas of serious concern as well. As a practical matter, the musicians are unlikely to be able to survive in our community for two years with no guaranteed minimum salary, and possibly no benefits. The care of the assets of the SSO is also a very serious concern, as they were intended for use and maintenance by a professional orchestra.
As it has been proposed, the Syracuse Philharmonic will not be an orchestra which comes anywhere close to the artistic quality or stature of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. The musicians have done everything possible to keep symphonic music alive in our community through our Symphony Syracuse Foundation, but we cannot do it alone. We believe that a wide ranging inclusive approach is necessary to rebuild a great orchestra, and we encourage you to be part of it. The Syracuse Philharmonic plan is still in development, and hearing from our community is vitally important to ensure that we continue to have great symphonic music in Syracuse.

The Syracuse Philharmonic has planned two community forums. One was held on September 13th and the other is scheduled for Tuesday, September 27th from 7–9 pm in Memorial Hall at the War Memorial at OnCenter, 515 Montgomery Street, Syracuse.

In the meantime, Symphony Syracuse will continue to function. We have some wonderful events planned this fall, and we will look forward to seeing you at our performance on October 9th!


Jon Garland
Chairman, Symphony Syracuse Foundation  

Jon Garland


Symphony Syracuse Foundation

Want More Information?

Musicians from Symphony Syracuse are available to speak to your group or club. If you are interested, please e-mail with contact information.