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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, May 21, 2001

Honolulu Symphony turns its fortunes around

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

Honolulu Symphony, which was playing its own funeral march just seven years ago, says it has orchestrated a financial turnaround with everyone from patrons to donors to Disney pouring in cash.

Concert ticket proceeds are up 18 percent over the same period last year, and operating costs have been cut to less than a projected $5.85 million in operating revenue for the year, new executive director Stephen Bloom said last week.

The symphony will play for Disney's Buena Vista premiere of "Pearl Harbor" aboard the USS Stennis tonight for an undisclosed sum.

"In addition to these major cash infusions, the symphony has just been awarded a three-year, $230,000 grant from the Hawai'i Community Foundation, the foundation's largest ever to the orchestra," Bloom said.

"And an anonymous donor has pledged a $1 million gift if the symphony completes the fiscal year in the black" and raises another $1 million by Dec. 31.

The symphony needs $250,000 more in donations to finish with a surplus June 30 and meet the first condition for the $1 million gift, he said.

The symphony shut down in 1993 for two seasons amid financial and labor woes, and has been in the red for all but one season since then.

Symphony Chairwoman Carolyn Berry credited "a lot of hard work" by the board, staff, musicians and volunteers for the turnaround, and said the community foundation grant will go toward studying for a future campaign to increase the symphony's $6 million endowment fund.