Middletown Symphony to end musical programs

Steve Ifcic, the symphony’s board chairman, said the board “has unanimously made the decision to close the curtain on the orchestra and end our musical programs in May of 2017 at the end of the 2016/2017 concert season.”

“Although a decision of this nature never comes easily, the fact is that there are many choices and much competition for an individual’s time and financial resources today, and we certainly took that into consideration,” Ifcic said in a letter being mailed this week to season ticket holders and symphony supporters.

“We decided to do this on our own terms and not go out limping but to go out on a high note with our 75th anniversary,” Ifcic told the Journal-News. “We wanted to make the announcement this year.”

The 2016-17 season will also mark the 35th anniversary for Carmon DeLeone as the symphony’s conductor.

“We are planning to make it a wonderful celebration of the past 75 years of music in Middletown,” Ifcic said of the final season.

He said this has been a decision that the board has discussed and mulled over for the past two years before coming to the conclusion to cease production.

More than 60 professional musicians participate in the orchestra performances at 750-seat seat Dave Finkelman Auditorium on the Miami University Middletown campus, according to Ifcic.

Except for the musicians, everyone else is a volunteer, he said.

“It’s pretty unusual to have an orchestra without a paid staff,” said Ifcic, who has been a member of the board fir 17 years.

Subscriptions to the orchestra have been declining over the past few years, he said. Currently, there are 175 season subscription holders for the performances that are held in November, January, March and May. In addition, the orchestra does a free performance on Labor Day at Woodside Cemetery Arboretum.

The orchestra’s last performance will be 75 years to the day when Valda Wilkerson took the baton as the orchestra’s conductor on May 7, 1942, according to Ifcic. The final performance will feature some of the music played in 1942, he said.

“It was amazing how it worked that way and the stars were aligned with Finkleman (auditorium) being open that day,” Ifcic said.

The Middletown Symphony Orchestra will live on in a legacy endowment fund that the board will be established at the Middletown Community Foundation at the end of next season, according to Ifcic.

That endowment will provide funding for musical endeavors in the Middletown area such as Youth Symphony and scholarships for those pursuing an education in music.

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