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Philadelphia’s Vulgamore: I’m proud we pulled the bankruptcy trigger

December 26, 2017 by norman lebrecht

9 comments.


The orchestra’s outgoing manager has no regrets. None at all.

Must be why she’s leaving.


Comments (9)

  1. Anon says:

    Norman, criticize her all you want on the bankruptcy matter. But she did manage to sign Yannick, who is universally loved by the musicians all over the world as a real artist and a human being, a status G. Dudamel and A. Nelson would kill to have. That’s an achievement.

    1. Andrew Barnard says:

      I’m not sure how bashing Dudamel and Nelsons (who I find more exciting than Yannick) has anything to do with the matter at hand.

    2. Barry says:

      I’m not sure how musicians around the world feel about Yannick, but it’s unquestionably true that the Music Director succession that Vulgamore oversaw was handled much better than the previous one, which was handled by her predecessor.

      I also don’t see the Orchestra’s financial difficulties of recent years as her fault. She inherited a rough situation and probably did what had to be done.

  2. Vaquero357 says:

    I’m not sure why the bankruptcy is such a terrible thing. Serious, yes. Fatal, not really. Just like individual people, organizations declare bankruptcy for various reasons, often to just get some temporary relief from creditors and then reorganize their debt so they can pay it back, to everybody’s satisfaction. I hadn’t studied the Philadelphia Orchestra situation in great depth, but that seemed to be their situation.

    There are, of course, different types of bankruptcy under U.S. federal law. There’s the “OK, we’re so far under water we’re just going to give up, liquidate it all, and give the creditors whatever they can get from a sale of assets.” And then there’s the, “OK, we need a break from our debt payments – with the agreement of our creditors – and then we’ll reorganize so we (a) stop hemorrhaging money and (b) pay off the creditors. Sometimes, that second type of bankruptcy proceeding just staves off the inevitable and the business eventually goes under anyway. That doesn’t seem to be Philadelphia’s case. They declared Chapter 11 in April of 2011 and came out in July 2012. Seems a fairly fast turn-around, all in all.

    The downside is that, even after successfully coming out of Chapter 11, the organization’s credit is….well, let’s remember that ANY lender or donor will be more cautious about giving money to them, at least at first.

    So yes, it’s jarring to read the headlines that a major American orchestra has declared bankruptcy, but the details of the Philadelphia situation showed that it was pretty far from going out of business.

  3. Suse says:

    Sigh….such a jaded comment from someone who has never done the work. Perhaps she was exhausted from the incredible effort of patching a hole in a historic ship that had been slowly sinking for decades. Trivializing her effort seems quite petty.

  4. Jerome Hoberman says:

    Some of the confusion has to do with the different concepts of bankruptcy in the US and the UK. In the US bankruptcy is a business strategy, without serious stigma. In the UK it’s the mark of Cain.

  5. Musician says:

    Let’s hope she is out if the orchestra business for good.

  6. Robert Holmén says:

    “I’m not sure why the bankruptcy is such a terrible thing.”

    The bankruptcy was so they could skip out on paying their musicians’ pensions.

    Are you still unsure about why it’s a terrible thing?

  7. Ben says:

    The orchestra world is a way better place without her kind. Thank you and good night.


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