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Pasadena Chamber Orchestra Ponders Future

October 05, 1986|MARY BARBER | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — The Pasadena Chamber Orchestra's board of directors will remain intact and will consider proposals for future musical programs, its members agreed when they met Wednesday for the first time since they canceled the 1986-87 season.

Acting President Peggy Phelps said no decision was made about future seasons, but some board members were hopeful that the sufficient funds could be raised for the orchestra to continue.

Phelps said the board discussed several possibilities that were offered by musicians "who had desires to keep the orchestra together."

She called the meeting "extremely amicable and upbeat," and said that board members remained firm in their controversial decision to cancel the series scheduled to start next month.

Founder Quit

The board made that decision Sept. 10 after orchestra founder and conductor Robert Duerr announced that he would resign in June.

The cancellation prompted Duerr to resign immediately, and it cast doubt on whether the orchestra will survive.

The board also voted to cancel the season because of doubts that enough money could be raised to finance the coming season. Board officers said they did not believe that the orchestra could survive without Duerr's leadership and fund-raising abilities.

Duerr was critical of the decision to cancel, saying he believed that the orchestra could survive if it was reorganized and scaled back until a musical director was chosen to replace him. Some musicians agreed, saying that the board relied too heavily on Duerr to raise money for the orchestra.

Three Members Resign

Phelps said three board members have resigned in the past month, and the remaining 24, all of whom attended Wednesday's meeting, agreed that they must concentrate on meeting current financial obligations.

"I believe we can see light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

The Pasadena Chamber Orchestra receives no public funds, and ticket sales are far short of 40% of its $300,000 annual budget, the percentage of paid admissions that most orchestras say is necessary for financial stability, she said.

"The real question is, can a small arts organization survive in Southern California, where there's so much competition?" Phelps said.

'Not Even Close'

"We're not even close" to 40%, she said. About 800 people attended each of last year's eight concerts in Ambassador Auditorium.

The orchestra has been acclaimed for its performances of rarely heard baroque music and little-known works of living composers and has won several national awards.

Phelps said no plans have been made to hire a new music director. The board will meet again on Oct. 28.

Duerr, who founded the group at the age of 23, is now 32 and has been named associate conductor of the Los Angeles Music Center Opera Company and plans to conduct several opera and symphony performances next year.

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