After a few months in the deep freeze, it appears the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra may be about to thaw out. According to Albin C. Koch, vice president of the board, "We've pulled up our socks, paid our debts and we're ready to step forward."
In September, the board had voted to cancel the season in progress--the orchestra's 10th under music director Robert Duerr. Of that decision, based mainly on financial considerations, Koch said: "I was not in favor of it, but it was understandable. The board was concerned that we were embarking on an expensive season. We had a reputation for fiscal soundness and we didn't want to go bankrupt."
By closing the doors, overhead was cut to zero and, Koch said, money was raised to cover about 90% of the debts that were estimated at $5,000 in liabilities, $35,000 in outstanding bills and a $35,000 loan.
So, now what? When and where will the orchestra play again? And who will conduct? Certainly not Duerr: "They need somebody else," he said. "I knocked my head against the wall for nine years. Other things have now taken priority." Duerr is associate conductor with Los Angeles Music Center Opera and is scheduled to lead two productions next season.
Koch was tight-lipped on the immediate future, although he hinted that the orchestra may play its next concert as early as this spring. "We have concerts on the drawing board. This is the decision month for us." As for a conductor/music director, "We'll have guest conductors of high merit--on an international level as well as the local level. When we're ready, we'll name a music director." He said Ambassador Auditorium is once again a possible site for PCO concerts.
Money remains a central consideration, Koch said. "We are still in the danger zone. We have to have money to do future concerts, and we want to get some new people to join the board.
"Right now, I'd say the chances of the orchestra returning to full strength is 75%. The way I see it, if we want to play music then we should do it!"
BOLSHOI UPDATE: That special group of local Russian balletomanes may suddenly find themselves turning into fans of Mickey Rooney and Joel Grey. Priority seating for the Bolshoi Ballet's engagement at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this summer has been offered to subscribers of Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, sponsors of the Bolshoi engagement here--and presenters of Rooney in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," Grey in "Cabaret," and a production to be named later. CLO President Stan Seiden dismissed the odd mix of events: "There's nothing unusual about this. We've always offered a package to encourage subscriptions."
Seiden also shrugged off the suggestion that ticket prices for the Bolshoi are unusually steep--topping off at $65. Pricing is based on "the economics," he said. "We're bringing a company of 152 out here at tremendous expense. We have to house and feed them. I doubt we'll break even. It's all part of this cultural exchange (with the Soviets)."
By comparison, top price for the Bolshoi at New York's Metropolitan Opera is $60, and $50 at the Kennedy Center in Washington. No figures were available for the San Francisco engagement. Thus far, Seiden said, CLO has received no complaints from balletomanes about this package deal. Those who would rather pass on Rooney, Grey, et al. must wait until May, when tickets to the general public go on sale.
PREVIN AND PROKOFIEV: When Andre Previn led his first concerts as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1985, he ended the program with Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5. Since opening week, he's conducted the Russian composer's "Classical" Symphony and the cantata, "Alexander Nevsky." In addition, the Philharmonic and its music director have recorded all those works plus the "Lt. Kijie" Suite. If there's still any doubt about Previn's fondness for Prokofiev, look at his repertory with the orchestra this week: The entire agenda at the Music Center, beginning Thursday, is devoted to that composer. Previn has scheduled the Symphony No. 6, the Violin Concerto No. 2 (with Kyung-Wha Chung as soloist) and the "Scythian" Suite.
TOURING ORCHESTRAS: Lucky New York. Claudio Abbado and the Vienna Philharmonic are on a world tour playing music by Beethoven exclusively. Tonight, they make their only Southern California stop--at Ambassador Auditorium. Earlier this month, Abbado and the VPO visited New York City for six concerts, at which they played two overtures, all nine Symphonies, plus the five Piano Concertos with no less a soloist than Maurizio Pollini. We get the Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3. Considering that the seven concerts following the concert tonight will take place in Japan (including five in Tokyo), it appears--on paper, at least--that the Pasadena date is merely a stopover between the East Coast and the Orient.