Robert Gerseny, chairman of the NHSO board of trustees, told the paper that a combination of low-ticket sales and reduced donations has forced the symphony to curtail its performances while new funds are raised. A typical season of 12 to 16 concerts reportedly costs between $400,000 and $500,000.
The orchestra announced yesterday that it had withdrawn from scheduled concerts in Manchester and Portsmouth in April, its only remaining performances this season. Two other performances fell through earlier this month.
Laurie Tobine, box office manager at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, which seats more than 850, told the paper that she only sold 100 tickets to the orchestra's February concert before it was called off. Tickets to the now-cancelled show on April 27 had been on sale since the fall, but as of yesterday only 75 had been sold.
Symphony officials had reportedly hoped to attract a large crowd for the season opener, billed as the New England premiere of Billy Joel's concerto, Symphonic Fantasies for Piano and Orchestra.
"That should have brought out tremendous crowds. A packed house," trustee Lois Fonda told the Union Leader, but it didn't. "It's just beyond me why there aren't enough people in New Hampshire who are appreciative of classical music. It's tragic. It really is," Fonda added.
The orchestra, founded in 1974, has faced financial woes and cancellations before, most recently in 2004, when some of the musicians' jobs appeared to be in jeopardy, according to the paper. New Hampshire is also home to several other orchestras, including the Granite State Symphony Orchestra and the Nashua Symphony Orchestra, which all compete for funds and donations.
The paper quoted Van McLeod, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources, as saying, "New Hampshire's arts and cultural institutions are always struggling. It's part of our modus operandi."