Ten years on, orchestra reclaims flooded hall

Ten years on, orchestra reclaims flooded hall


norman lebrecht

February 14, 2015

It was in August 2005 that the levees burst and the Louisiana Philharmonic was driven from the Orpheum in New Orleans. This September it will return with Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony. But why has it taken 10 years?

Read about the new season here. 


orpheum new orleans


  • John says:

    I’m not a New Orleans resident, and have never actually been in the city, but from everything I’ve read, the damage from Hurricane Katrina was massive on a truly massive scale, and it affected the city in ways that are still being felt and will be felt for decades to come. In view of that, I think it might be easy to understand that rebuilding a concert hall might have been a rather low priority.

  • Christy says:

    Really not hard to understand when you look at the facts. A million housing units damage. Over 100,000 households displace longterm. Entire industries wiped out. Over 100 BILLION in damages, with 75 Billion in gov’t emergency relief simply to keep people alive. By comparison, Tsunami longterm damage was 7 billion. 7 Billion vs. 100 Billion+. It was a disaster of massive proportions unprecedented in United States history, creating six figure homelessness and 100% unemployment. A million households involved.


  • thad says:

    William Osborne, where are you?

    The entire civilized world awaits with baited breath your pithy comment on the above, simultaneously indicting American civilization as well as directly implicating the Bush administration in this cultural atrocity!

    Dude, if there isn’t a comment here by tomorrow morning (I write at 8:27 pm, US Pacific Time, February 14th, 2015) I will have to assume the worst, that CIA ninjas have eliminated you with extreme prejudice because of your awesome truth telling!

    • william osborne says:

      Don’t worry about the truth of America’s poor system of funding the arts and its effects. Nor the urban neglect that failed to strengthen the levies in the first place. I’m sure you can find a warm dark place to stick your head and see nothing.

  • NYMike says:

    The current LPO is a far cry from the late ’50s – early ’60s New Orleans Phil – the “world’s greatest $85/week orchestra” of 85 full-time musicians – the breeding ground for many principal and section musicians moving on to Philadelphia, NY, Boston, Cleveland, etc. The conductor was former Philly concertmaster, associate conductor and Curtis orchestra conductor Alexander Hilsberg – “Ajax, the foaming conductor” – mad as a hatter but a superb musician. Guest conductors in one season included Monteux, Mitropoulos, Wallenstein, Leinsdorf. and Kostelanetz.

    The rehearsal hall was the condemned St. Charles Theater from which the Mardi Gras parade could be viewed by crawling out on its marquee. The Pacific Life Tower now stands in its place with a plaque commemorating the theater.

    • william osborne says:

      Like so many American orchestras, the Louisiana Philharmonic had a history of serious financial troubles that existed long before the flood. As the NYT, notes, “After the New Orleans Symphony collapsed amid heavy debts, the players in 1991 formed the Louisiana Philharmonic. For several years, they worked for a pittance while paying off the debt. The orchestra had made its way back to health, with a budget of $4 million, about 75 concerts a year and a new music director starting in 2006, Carlos Miguel Prieto.” Then came the flood, the result of an even more fundamental type of neglect. The problems with US orchestras will only be alleviated by systemic changes in our funding system.

      • william osborne says:

        By comparison, the operating budget of the LPO is only 5.4% of the Chicago Symphony’s (4 million vs. 74 million.) The population of New Orleans was 500,000 in 1990, dropped to 200,000 in 2006, and is now about 380,000. There seem to be correlations between the neglect of culture and the neglect of even basic infrastructure in our cities.

        • thad says:

          Mr. Osborne:

          I apologize for the sarcastic tone of my comment over the weekend. It was uncalled for. In advocating massive increases in public arts funding, you’re delusional but well-meaning.

          • william osborne says:

            Most larger social movements are considered unrealistic in the beginning. Change will come, even if slowly.

  • David Boxwell says:

    The Vienna State Opera also took 10 years to re-open after WWII.