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Economy impacting Philharmonic schedule

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic will merge four concerts into two this season, in a response to economic challenges and an anticipated drop in state funding.

The Nov. 7 Masterworks performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4, originally scheduled for the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, will merge with the Nov. 6 concert, resulting in a single performance on Nov. 6 at the Scranton Cultural Center.

The March 12 Masterworks performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No 3 “Eroica,” originally scheduled for the Scranton venue, will merge with the March 13 concert resulting in a single performance on March 13 at the Kirby Center.

Affected ticket holders will be notified by a Philharmonic representative and helped to make arrangements for new seating assignments. Patrons requiring additional information may call the NEPA Philharmonic administrative office at 341-1568, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic is a sound organization, but despite our strengths, we are not immune to the effects of the current economic crisis,” said Robert L. Stanley, Philharmonic board president.

The decision to merge the concerts comes partly in response to an unpaid $60,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Philharmonic spokesman Steve Parulski said. That money has been promised, and was to have supported the 2008-09 concert season.

The Philharmonic expects to receive the grant in January at the earliest, Parulski said, but there’s no guarantee the state would give a similar grant for the current 2009-10 season.

Another challenge the Philharmonic is facing is a 20 percent drop in corporate sponsors, grants and foundation funding.

The musicians of Local 140 American Federation of Musicians, Wilkes-Barre, on Sept. 12 unanimously agreed to a wage freeze for the 2009-10 concert season, and salaries of management and administrative staff have also been frozen.

“These and other proactive actions will potentially save the organization about $80,000 this year,” Executive Director Nancy Schmitt Farkas said, “and will ensure that the orchestra can continue its mission to the community.”

The rest of the concerts in the 2009-10 schedule are unaffected, Parulski said. He expects the 2010-11 schedule to have a full eight concerts in both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

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