News on orchestras affected by Hurricane Irma
September 16, 2017
Like yours, our hearts and thoughts are with everyone who is affected by Hurricane Irma. The League has contacted our member orchestras in the affected states, providing resources and assistance, and we will continue to keep you updated and to let you know how you can help.
- As of September 6, Artis Naples (FL), of which the Naples Philharmonic is a part, is publishing regular updates here.
- On September 12, Mary Briggs of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra (SC) reported that, “Well, Irma is behind us. We were battered quite a bit yesterday and there was considerable flooding but all is in much better shape than last year after Matthew. It looks like we will likely be able to hold our opening gala concert next Monday. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts. “
- On September 12, Amy Ginsburg, of the Southwest Florida Symphony (FL) reported that “The Southwest Florida Symphony is a group 5 orchestra located in Ft. Myers, situated on Florida’s gulf coast. Our community was one of those directly in Hurricane Irma’s path. Our administrative staff is relatively small with only 13 employees. All but three of us evacuated. Though as of today we are scattered around the country awaiting confirmation that gas stations can accommodate all of us upon our commutes through Florida to return home, we have maintained contact with each other, with our board and with many of our musicians who live around the state. The electricity is still out at our office, but we’re able to access our email and CRM software remotely which has allowed us to maintain some semblance of normal operations. The good news is, the damage to our community as a whole was far less than anticipated; there’s been very little flooding and since the wind speed dropped considerably upon the storm’s landfall, property damage isn’t nearly what we expected. We truly dodged a cannonball. With our opening night only five weeks away, we have no idea how this will impact attendance yet, but we’ll be glad to report on it once it happens. We expect that Floridians; snowbirds, short-term visitors and full time residents alike, will feel quite celebratory after emerging from a natural disaster with minor cuts and bruises.
- On September 12, Anne Catherine Murray of the Symphony Orchestra Augusta (GA) reported that, “High winds and power outages were our biggest problems. Anticipating serious travel and evacuation issues, we cancelled our orchestra auditions, but were otherwise unaffected. We wish the very best to our League partners.”
- On September 13, Lester Abberger, League board member, gave this report on behalf of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra (FL), “We here in Tallahassee were very fortunate. We experienced relatively minimal wind and debris damage and were without power intermittently for three days. Unfortunately, as the Tallahassee Symphony’s hall is located on the campus of Florida State University, which is closed until Monday, the Symphony’s season premier concert scheduled for the evening of September 15 has been postponed. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in South and Central Florida who sustained significant damages and who face daunting recovery challenges.”
- On September 13, Robert Massey of the Jacksonville Symphony (FL) wrote, “Last night, full power was restored to the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts. The administrative and ticket offices re-opened today. Saturday’s Opening Night performance will take place as scheduled at Jacoby Symphony Hall. It’s an incredible program featuring the Sibelius Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s grand Symphony No. 5. As our mayor said, one of the most significant recovery efforts is returning to normalcy. As music expresses that which cannot be put into words, the need for this performance has never been greater. Sunday’s performance at The Cloister on Sea Island has been cancelled, due to damage at their venue.”
- On September 14, Michael Pastreich of The Florida Orchestra, in St. Petersburg, wrote, “How are we after Hurricane Irma? Sweaty. Exhausted. Cranky. And incredibly grateful. Despite thousands of downed trees and homes with no power, it could have been so much worse in Tampa Bay. At The Florida Orchestra, we quickly got to work taking care of our own, expediting payroll early so people could have cash on hand, offering loans to staff and musicians and opening our offices to staffers’ families for some much needed AC and Internet. We are relieved our 50th anniversary season will open on schedule Oct. 6-8. Now we are focused on helping our community recover. Next week we’ll perform about 10 free chamber concerts at retirement centers, hospitals and museums around Tampa Bay as part of TFO on the Go. And when the time is right, we’re working on more ways to help across the state in areas that got hit much worse than we did. Yes, Irma was powerful, but music is powerful, too. It can’t turn on the lights or repair your house, but it can bring a community together when it needs it most.”