THE FORTNIGHTLY CLUB
OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895

 

MEETING # 1574

4:00 P.M.

OCTOBER 24, 1996


The Redlands Symphony Orchestra
--- A Cultural Jewel

by William K. Fawcett

Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library


BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR

W. K. (Bill) Fawcett was born in New Albany, Indiana. His education included B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Purdue University, and MBA, Indiana University. "Two-time loser" to U. S. Army: WWII and Korea. The highlight of latter service in Pentagon was playing the organ for noon chapel services; no medal received. After retiring from Lockheed; he started at Propulsion Company in Mentone in 1962. He worked on new business proposals throughout his career.

Married Martha Snyder a few years back; three daughters. Bill and Marty are Paul Harris Fellows of Rotary International.

Bill has served as president of The Spinet and as president of the Symphony Association in 1989-90 and 1990-91.


SUMMARY

The Redlands Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble of which Redlands can be very proud. It has received considerable acclaim since its formation in 1983 from the merger of the University-Community Orchestra and the Winter Concert Association. It is governed by a board of 30 directors elected for three-year terms, and is managed by an Executive Director.

The Symphony enjoys a very close relationship with the University of Redlands, from which it receives many benefits, primarily services and facility use resulting in much lower overhead costs. The University School of Music derives a great recruiting tool because it can offer outstanding prospective students and faculty the potential opportunity to perform in a first-rate symphony orchestra. The Symphony also contributes significantly to the perception of the University as a center of culture,

The orchestra performs five subscription concerts and family and school concerts each year in the University's Memorial Chapel, a venue which creates a lot of "electricity" for the listening audience. Concerts are generally sold out, or nearly so, in the 1486-seat auditorium, reflecting the support the Symphony has received from the community. The writer knows of no other community where such a high percentage of citizens attends concerts.

The Symphony Association has a budget for the 1996-7 season of $348,000, of which 35% is expected to come from ticket sales, Of the remaining 65% almost half will come from the annual Gala in June, an event conducted by the Symphony Guild, an important adjunct of the Association. The Guild has between 150 and 200 members, meets monthly, and sponsors a highly successful free music appreciation Fridays at 4 conducted by Dr. Janice Fulbright of the University School of Music.

Players of the Symphony are members of Local 47 of the American Federation of Musicians, except for very talented students whose participation is authorized by an unusual provision of the union contract.

Dr. Jon Robertson has conducted the Symphony almost from its formation in 1983 He is largely responsible for the quality and recognition which the orchestra has achieved. He has been active in the community speaking and playing on behalf of the Symphony, and speaks to a large audience in the Chapel prior to each concert. Recordings of the Symphony can be heard Sunday mornings 10 to 11 on KUOR, 89.1 Em, sponsored by Beaver Medical Clinic.

In every aspect, the Redlands Symphony is one of Redlands' finest cultural assets.


The Redlands Symphony Orchestra
--- A Cultural Jewel

This is about one of Redlands most exciting success stories, the Redlands Symphony Orchestra.

HISTORY

The Redlands Symphony Orchestra resulted from the merger in 1983 of the University-Community Symphony and the Winter Concert Association. The University-Community Symphony was organized in 1950 by Dr. Edward C. Tritt’ Professor of Music of the University faculty. It performed much of the symphonic literature under Dr. Tritt’s direction until his retirement in 1975. There were many enjoyable highlights during those years; two immediately come to mind: the Jack Benny concert and the Rodgers and Hammerstein concert with John Raitt. After Dr. Tritt’s retirement, leadership of the orchestra passed to the late Prof. Jack Wilson and then to Prof. James Jorgensen of the University faculty. It should be noted that our own Dr. Fritz Bromberger was a founding violinist of the University-Community Symphony and served longer than any other player, 33 years.

The roots of the Winter Concert Association date back to the founding of The Spinet in 1895. In the early years The Spinet brought internationally acclaimed stars and organizations to Redlands. The list reads like a Who’s Who of great musicians and performers. During the Depression responsibility was passed to the University of Redlands for continuing the presentation function, In 1956 the Winter Concert Association was organized to take over the impresario role of presenting great artists to Redlands audiences in the Memorial Chapel. Since 1983,-then, the Redlands Symphony Orchestra has assumed the dual responsibilities of both performance and presentation which is inherited from its predecessor organizations. The performance function continues, of course, but the function of booking outside performers was discontinued after several years, although it was attempted unsuccessfully last year.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

.The Symphony is controlled by the Symphony Association which is governed by its Board of Directors. The Board consists of up to 30 persons who are nominated by a committee of the Board and elected by the Board, Terms are for three years; a member may be elected to a second term, after which he or she must remain off the Board for at least one year. Of the thirty, three members are appointed by the President of the University of Redlands to maintain the maximum coordination between the two institutions. These appointees have typically included the Director of the School of Music and the Vice President/Business Manager. Currently the Dean of the Faculty is serving on the Board. Another is the President of the Symphony Guild-serving during her tenure to insure a close relationship with the parent Association.

The Board meets monthly except in August. The meetings are governed by an agenda prepared by the President and the Executive Director. Business is conducted primarily by receiving and acting on reports of standing committees, which are finance, nominating, repertoire, development, by-laws, marketing, foundation, youth music and personnel.

MISSION

The Redlands Symphony Association is a non-profit organization chartered by the State of California. As such it is independent of the university of Redlands, although it will be shown later how much both organizations, especially the Symphony, benefit from the close relationship of the two. The relationship is so close that some have assumed that the Symphony is part of the University, but that is not the case.

The purpose of the Symphony Association, as stated in its By-laws, "shall be to provide quality musical concerts, to promote musical education of students of the University of Redlands and to encourage musical enrichment of young people and adults in the local community and elsewhere where other opportunities exist."

STAFF

Day-to-day management of the Association is the responsibility of the Executive Director, appointed by the Board and assisted by the Office Manager. Both are full-time positions. The Executive Director is responsible for directing all activities of the Association in accordance with the policies and guidelines adopted by the Board. He or she is the front person for the organization.

The part-time staff includes the Music Director/Conductor, Who is paid an annual salary for his services; an Operations Manager who is responsible for physical arrangements of the Chapel stage for rehearsals and performances, and for the procurement of music from rental sources; and the Personnel Contractor who secures the services of the musicians necessary for a given concert.

SYMPHONY GUILD

One of the most important steps the Symphony has undertaken was the formation of the Symphony Guild. The Guild has grown in size and importance to the Association. Annually 150 to 200 members participate in Guild activities. In addition to the monthly meetings there are three important functions performed under the sponsorship of the Guild: the first is the annual fund-raising Gala on the first Saturday of June in the Orton Center, A great party attended by about 300. Net proceeds have increased from about $20,000 to over $100,000 in 1996, a crucial factor in keeping the Symphony in the black; the second important function is the sponsorship of pre-concert dinners and patron receptions; and the third is the Friday-at-4 music appreciation class begun by Dr. Lois Mussmann and currently led by Dr. Janice Fulbright, Between 40 and 50 regularly attend these stimulating no-cost sessions in Watchorn Hall.

U of R RELATIONSHIP

The relationship between the Symphony Association and the University of Redlands has earlier been described as close. It will now be shown just how close, The University provides the following facilities and services for the Association: use of the Chapel for rehearsals and concerts; great office space in the former Health Center; mail and telephone services; orchestra and staff payroll services; accounting and accounts payable services; investment services; insurance; Casa Loma Room and Orton Center for Association functions; and until recently ticketing services, The value of these benefits has been estimated to be in the range of $80,000 to $100,000 annually. And in the early years the University contributed $15,000 each year to the operation of the Symphony, The benefits derived by the University from the relationship cannot be similarly quantified. There are two aspects, the first associated with the School of Music and the second with the overall University institution, The School of Music has a powerful recruiting tool: it can offer a talented prospective student the potential opportunity of performing great music as a player in a first-rate symphony. Also, each Fall the School of Music conducts a competition among its stand-out music students, and the winner is awarded the opportunity to solo with the Redlands Symphony the following season, The Symphony also helps with faculty recruitment by providing the opportunity for music faculty to perform as section principal players and as mentors for their students selected to play in the Symphony.

The other aspect of the benefit to the University as a whole is the cultural environment created by the Symphonyż part of an environment so essential to the perception of the University as a center of culture. It also greatly strengthens the relationship of the University to the community at large, the Town and Gown factor.

CHAPEL

No discussion of the Symphony can be complete without talking about the Memorial Chapel. Designed by Herbert Powell, about whom we heard from Larry Burgess last year, to be the venue for University chapel services, which have long since been discontinued, the Chapel has served beautifully as the home of the Redlands Symphony, Not only are the sight lines very good for a symphony concert, but also the acoustic provides a brilliant ambience for the sound produced by the Symphony. Members of the audience receive a lot of "electricity" generated by the sound, a characteristic, for example, not sensed by this writer at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing in spite of the virtuosity of that orchestra.

The seating capacity of the Chapel is 1486, an ideal size for the Symphony,

GRANTS

One can almost use the past tense when discussing grants, particularly those emanating from governmental sources. For the Redlands Symphony, the high-water mark occurred five or six years ago, when about $50,000 was received from government grantors.

Three grants resulted from submittal of lengthy, detailed applications which responded to the instructions of the issuing agency, Two of these were California agencies s the California Arts Council and the Arts Foundation of San Bernardino County. Each graded the applications and based its award on the grade. For both agencies the Symphony consistently received the highest grade, and therefore received the highest award for which it was eligible based upon its budget category. The CalArts grant was typically $19 to $20 thousand; the County grant was $15 to $16 thousand.

The third governmental agency which made grants to the Association is the National Endowment for the Arts, which either accepts or rejects an application and pegs its award at 2` of the applicant's budget. Redlands has received about $4 to $6 thousand per year.

The annual total received from these three agencies at the peak was $38 to $40 thousand. For this past year, 1995-96, the awards were $3 thousand from the State, 0 from the County and 0 from the NEA, reflecting the precarious status of arts funding by government.

Another loss has been the discontinuance of the $10 thousand grant from the Redlands Unified School District to fund the classroom and Chapel student concerts, The Symphony has continued those programs at its expense because of the importance of exposing students to at least some great music.

BUDGET

The annual budget for the upcoming 1996-97 season is $348,000. Ticket sales are budgeted at $125,000, based upon season ticket subscriptions of loon and door sales. 35$ of the budget is expected to come from ticket income and 65% from other sources, especially the Gala and contributions,

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

One of the most amazing and gratifying aspects of the Symphony is the support it has received from the community, Attendance at concerts runs between 1400 and 1500. Based on Redlands population of about 64,000, over 2% of the community is in attendance. While this doesn't sound high, it is very high for a symphony orchestra. By comparison with a full house the San Bernardino Symphony would draw 1%, and the Riverside Philharmonic about 0.3% of the population. The percentage attending the Pasadena and Long Beach Symphonies is even lower because of the much greater population of their areas. The community has also supported the Symphony very generously from the financial standpoint. The success of the annual Gala has already been mentioned. Although it has been necessary to gradually reduce the number of concerts per season from the customary level of eight to the current level of five because of the economic situation, no other area orchestra has ever offered more than five at about the same subscription rate as Redlands. Much of the credit for this and for the financial stability which the Symphony has enjoyed is due the University of Redlands for the support it provides in keeping the overhead low

YOUNG PEOPLES' PROGRAM

Each year the Symphony performs a Family Concert on Sunday afternoon which is either free or available for a very small charge. It features repertoire geared to children; 'Peter and the Wolf" is typical of the works performed. There is supporting action on the stage to dramatize the music. This program is generously supported by Local 47 with funds from the Union's Trust Fund. Preceding the concert is a very popular instrument Petting Zoo at which University students and staff demonstrate various musical instruments and encourage the attending children to play them.

A program abbreviated from the Family Concert is played twice on the Wednesday morning preceding the Sunday program for about 3000 fifth and sixth grade students bussed to the Chapel by the Redlands Unified School District and some surrounding districts and private schools. Prior to the concerts docents trained in the musical literature to be performed visit the class rooms of the RUSD to prepare the children for the concert,

Most years the Symphony has formed small ensembles, typically four players, to visit early elementary classrooms of the Redlands district to demonstrate various families of musical instruments and to acquaint the youngsters with a taste of classical music. Curtailment of much of the music programs in the public schools has spurred the Symphony to do as much as it can to help fill the void.

REPERTOIRE

In any symphony orchestra the Music Director is ultimately responsible for determining what music will be played. After all, he or she is judged both by what is played and how well it is played. In the case of the Redlands Symphony the Music Director has rarely had to exercise his authority. A committee of the Board meets with the Music Director during the fall as the proposed repertoire for the following year is shaped up and modified until a consensus is achieved. The process usually strikes a balance between new or modern music and the more familiar classical literature. The Association has occasionally commissioned a composer to write a piece, but budgetary constraints have led to a discontinuance of the practice.

RUNOUTS

The comment is often made about the inefficiency of a program that requires three rehearsals but performs only one concert. A duplicate concert in the Chapel by the Redlands Symphony is not feasible because an unusually high percentage of the population now attends each concert; it is not reasonable to expect a large audience at the second concert. None of the other symphonies mentioned earlier has duplicate concerts, not even Long Beach or Pasadena with much greater populations and drawing areas.

That leads to the subject of run-out concerts, the term given to concerts away from home. The cities of San Bernardino and Riverside would be naturals for run-outs for the Redlands Symphony if they didn't each have their own orchestra. A good deal of effort has been expended in seeking run-out opportunities, and a fair amount of success has been achieved considering that our geographical location is so unfavorable. We are hemmed in to the west, and to the east only the Palm Springs area has any potential. The Symphony did perform in the 400-seat Annenberg Theatre of the Desert Museum for several years, but hasn't recently. The much-coveted McCallum Theatre of the Bob Hope Performing Arts Center is not a possibility because the series sponsor books only the Vienna Philharmonics and the Chicago Symphonies of the music world, so the Redlands Symphony is a tough sell.

The orchestra has performed at Ridgecrest three times, at Fallbrook twice, at the Blockbuster Pavilion, at Cal State Los Angeles, and at the Gardner Springs Auditorium in Ontario. Also, ESRI booked the orchestra to perform at its annual employees' party at the Marriott Desert Springs Hotel last year.

UNION

The musicians of the Symphony are members of Local 47 of the American Federation of Musicians, and they are governed by the contract between the Union and the Symphony Association.

An unusual provision of the union contract gives the Symphony the opportunity to select highly qualified student-musicians to replace a union member while the student is in school. That privilege is very important to the University in attracting prospective students for the School of Music, as has been mentioned earlier.

The wage scale in the current three-year contract calls for $56 per rehearsal and $92 per concert for section players, commonly referred to as "sidemen". Section principals receive at least 20% more. So, for sidemen playing three rehearsals and one concert, the pay is about $260, or $1300 annually for a five-concert season.

ORCHESTRA PERSONNEL

A typical symphony orchestra consists of the following players: 16 first violins, 12 second violins, 10 violas, 8 cellos and 8 basses, making up the string section; 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba and 1 tympani. Additional players, especially percussionists, are brought in when the music being played requires it.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE SAN BERNARDINO AND RIVERSIDE ORCHESTRAS

There are three symphonies in the immediate area' the San Bernardino Symphony, recently re-named after being called the Inland Empire Symphony for about ten years; the Riverside County Philharmonic; and the Redlands Symphony. The relationship among them is worth a look. First, there is a commonality of players. Some years ago the writer analyzed the make-up of the three orchestras' and found that there were 22 players common to Redlands and San Bernardino; 42 common to Redlands and Riverside; and 27 to San Bernardino and Riverside. The numbers for San Bernardino are undoubtedly lower now because that orchestra has imported more musicians from the Los Angeles area in recent years.

One item of cooperation among the three orchestras has been concert scheduling to avoid conflict. Since each orchestra rehearses within the week of its Saturday concert, coordinating the concert schedules to avoid duplication has been a big step forward. The only potential problem remains the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera, which is financially attractive to the players because of higher union scale and multiple performances, but whose schedule cannot be forecast.

The question of merger among the three symphonies is a subject which arises periodically. There are several pros and cons to be considered if the subject ever becomes serious. A merged symphony would be very strong financially (assuming no loss of support among patrons of the three cities, a big if) because one set of rehearsals would support three concerts, one in each city, a much more efficient system. The merged symphony would likely attract even better musicians through probably a higher union scale and greater performance opportunities.

On the other hand each city would lose its specific identity with its orchestra, a potential loss of civic pride in a cultural asset. Another big factor are the key personnel involved: three conductors and three executive directors, two each of whose careers and egos would be impacted.

The blueprint for a merged orchestra would surely specify a board of directors with equal representation from each of the three cities; ticket offices in each city; and a headquarters office located in neutral territory, for example in the Cooley Ranch.

One very big area of concern exclusively for the Redlands Symphony would be the future of the merged orchestra's relationship with the University of Redlands, the ramifications of which are Very significant to both institutions, but which will not be enumerated here. The writer is not aware of any impetus at the moment aimed at promoting a merger, The line separating the two counties appears to discourage any cooperation between the communities, especially the two larger ones, so the writer predicts no move toward merger until financial stress forces one of the orchestras to seek relief via a merger,

CONDUCTOR

Jon Robertson has conducted the Symphony almost from its inception in 6983. He was selected as a result of guest conducting the orchestra during its search for a permanent conductor,

The outstanding success the Symphony has enjoyed, both musically and image-wise, can be attributed to Jon. He is not only a wonderful Music Director but also a powerful salesman and public relations person who represents the Symphony very well wherever he appears. He has served on the board of the Association of California Symphonies, and has been a member of panels of the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts for the evaluation of grant applications. He has been strongly supported by the Board of the Redlands Symphony, but it is his leadership that has created the reputation which the Symphony enjoys.

Jon has a doctorate in piano performance from Juilliard. When he decided to take up conducting, he studied with and became a protege of Herbert Blomstedt, until recently the conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, The La Sierra campus of Loma Linda University was the site of some of this association; Jon also studied with Blomstedt in Europe, Jon has most recently been appointed to the music faculty of UCLA as Professor of Conducting, and for the last two years has served as head of the Department of Music.

One of Dr. Robertson's strong points has been his willingness to be active in the community by speaking to, and sometimes playing for, local groups. He also speaks before each concert to a large audience about the music about to be played, Realizing the value of Jon to the organization, the Board has maintained Jon on a five-year contract which is extended one year each year. The question is often asked about the possibility of Jon leaving the orchestra either for another symphony post or because of his duties at UCLA. He always answers that the Redlands Symphony will come first in any consideration of future plans.

MISCELLANEOUS

Almost ten years ago the Redlands City Attorney, Dallas Holmes of the Riverside firm of Best, Best and Krieger commissioned the eminent artist and wood craftsman Sam Maloof of Upland to create a work-of-art podium for the Symphony, Mr. Holmes continued to make annual payments, but discontinued the practice when he no longer served the city. Most recently the University picked up the payments with help from the Frederick Loewe Foundation of Lerner and Loewe fame. The beautiful new podium was introduced at the October 5th, 1996 opening concert. Mr. Maloof was present and was introduced to the appreciative audience. One of the best-kept secrets in Redlands is the fact that the recordings of the Symphony are broadcast weekly, from 10 to 11 Sunday mornings on KUOR, 89.1 fm sponsored by Beaver Medical Clinic. If you haven't heard the orchestra, this gives you the opportunity to do so without putting on a tie or buying a ticket. And don't be surprised if you think you've tuned in to the Chicago Symphony or the Vienna Philharmonic. The Redlands Symphony isn't that great, of course, even its most ardent supporters must admit, but to most of us it sounds like it is. Try it, you'll like it.

In conclusion, Redlands has a wonderful asset of which it can be very proud: the Redlands Symphony Orchestra. The community has supported the orchestra .very well, and the ensemble has responded by bringing much enjoyment to its audiences and the community at large.



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