Desperate US orch changes name to survive

The deepening plight of the Memphis Symphony just took another turn for the worse.

The orch has abandoned its premises and moved into student accommodation at the university campus. It will be officially retitled Memphis Symphony Orchestra in Residence at the University of Memphis.

That’s bound to improve matters.

Memphis somehow brags the title ‘City of Music’.

memphis-music-commission

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  • Memphis isn’t City of Music. You’re confusing it with the other metropolis in Tennessee: Nashville, whose nickname is Music City.

  • Their conductor, Mei-Ann Chen, is terrific. Memphis has money, it has Elvis, great BBQ, the pyramid and the orchestra is excellent. But like so many other American cities, there aren’t enough people who care about the classics to make an orchestra viable. Shame.

  • This may be a very smart move in the long run. The Redlands (CA) Symphony is “in residence” at Redlands University. The University provides free office space, free concert hall, free accounting/legal services and the Symphony employees are considered to be University employees, thus getting full University benefits. (It remains a separate 501C3 non-profit.) The Symphony got permission from the union to allow 2 or 3 students to perform with them from time to time and some University school of music faculty play in the Symphony, too. Redlands is a much smaller budget than Memphis but this could very well be an excellent business model for other orchestras to follow. Many universities sponsor (expensive) concert series. Why not a symphony orchestra?

    • I used to work for a big music festival in the US that’s “in residence” at a major public university. It is the best possible situation for practically everybody involved. I’ve always been surprised that more struggling arts organizations don’t do things like this. I suspect it may be a wave of the future in this industry.

  • Theatre companies like Yale Rep have been doing this for a long time. There can be real advantages to sheltering under the wing of a university, especially during challenging times.

  • Good point. The U. of Colorado/Colorado Springs has an Equity theatre company in residence. So does U. of North Carolina. There’s also American Repertory Theatre at Harvard. I’m sure there are others.

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