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July 26, 2017

Wide-ranging musical offerings and energized community engagement efforts
help set new records organization-wide

(PORTLAND, OR) – President Scott Showalter announced today the results of the 2016/17 Season, his third as Oregon Symphony President. Titled “Like Never Before” for its groundbreaking SoundSights series, the season set all-time records in virtually every category, including number of concerts, audience attendance, subscription revenue, single ticket sales, the number of sold-out concerts, percentage of first-time ticket buyers, the amount raised at the annual Gala, total number of donors, total number of new donors, and the amount of overall contributions. These high-water marks resulted in the Symphony’s eighth consecutive balanced budget.

These numbers were propelled by a season that saw a 20% increase in the number of classical performances, three trailblazing SoundSights concerts (Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle with glass sets by Dale Chihuly; Messaien’s Turangalîla with animation by Rose Bond; and Stravinsky’s Persephone with puppetry and staging by Michael Curry), and the broadest-ever range of Special Concerts, from Boyz II Men and DeVotchKa to Renée Fleming and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The season additionally reached 1.3 million radio broadcast listeners via All Classical Portland as well as American Public Media’s SymphonyCast and Performance Today, and included two commissioned world premieres.

Artistic highlights included:

  • The release of Haydn Symphonies, the fourth CD under Music Director Carlos Kalmar on the Pentatone label.
  • The second year of percussionist Colin Currie’s three-year appointment as the Oregon Symphony’s Artist-in-Residence.
  • Commissioned works – and their world premieres – from Kenji Bunch and Chris Rogerson.
  • A 20% increase in the number of classical performances.

The season drew historic attendance and ticket revenue:

  • Total seats sold: 182,242 (up 18% over previous year and 38% over last five seasons).
  • Total ticket revenue: $9,228,060 (up 21% over previous year and 59% over last five seasons).
  • Total subscription revenue up 4% over previous year and 15% over last five seasons.
  • Total single ticket revenue up 29% over 15/16 and 91% over last five years. 
  • Classical attendance up 14% over previous year.
  • Classical ticket revenue up 13% over previous year and 24% over last five seasons.
  • 28 sold-out concerts, 30% of the season’s concerts.
  • 26% of all tickets sold were to first-time buyers, a 12% increase over the previous year.

It also saw multiple records for contributed revenue:

  • Highest-ever contributed revenue of $8,504,799.
  • The annual gala broke the “glass ceiling” of $1 million, a 15% increase over last year’s record.
  • More than $2 million in contributions from the Oregon Symphony Association and Foundation Boards.
  • Support from more than 38 foundations, 30 corporations, and several government agencies including the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Brookby Foundation, Regional Arts and Culture Council, City of Portland, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation, Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, Collins Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Umpqua Bank, FamilyCare Health, Globe Foundation, Jay and Diane Zidell Charitable Foundation, Irwin & Renee Holzman Foundation, Richard & Janet Geary Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, and Wells Fargo Foundation.

The Oregon Symphony expanded its education and community engagement efforts, increasing the number of programs staged throughout the year by 4% and reaching 19% more people throughout the community:

  • The annual free Waterfront Concert drew 15,000 attendees, and featured more than a dozen performing ensembles, including BRAVO Youth Orchestras, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Portland Youth Philharmonic, and Portland Taiko. The Oregon Symphony’s performance reached additional listeners worldwide via broadcast by All Classical Portland.
  • An expanded musicNOW program – which sees Symphony musicians and therapists from Earthtones Music Therapy team up to bring music-making and movement to those living with age-related cognitive loss – engaged 240 residents, family members, and caregivers at two senior residences.
  • Artist-in-Residence Colin Currie reached 1,400 community members through nine free events, which included master classes with Metropolitan Youth Symphony and Portland Youth Philharmonic, and concerts at St. Mary’s Home for Boys, Newberg’s Chehalem Cultural Center, and Nordia House. The performance at Nordia House, featuring Symphony percussionists, highlighted innovative wearable technology developed by Intel.
  • As part of the SoundSights series, explorative discussion panels with artists and arts leaders reached an in-person audience of more than 500, with 7,200 additional viewers participating via Facebook Live.
  • 14 Symphony Storytimes, 36 Kinderkonzerts, and 6 Young People’s Concerts reached a combined 18,200 K-8students and family members.
  • The annual Gala included a free community concert for an audience of 2,500.
  • The Oregon Symphony’s brass ensemble returned to Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, where the CCCF choir joined them in a holiday performance for 235 inmates and staff.
  • Soloists Wynton Marsalis, Alban Gerhardt, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Harriet Krijgh coached three area youth orchestras, as did Music Director Carlos Kalmar and Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik.
  • An expanded Link Up program saw 5,400 elementary students – double the participation over last season – making music alongside the Oregon Symphony, using curriculum provided by Carnegie Hall.

Additionally, 22,000 of the K-12 students reached throughout the season – about 60% of the total – participated for free, based on enrollment in the federal free and reduced lunch program. The Symphony also provided free bus transportation to the concert hall for Title I schools.

“This has been an extraordinary season,” said Showalter. “We thank our community for its enthusiastic support, and recognize as well the exceptional musicianship of the orchestra, which together have made it possible to inspire audiences throughout the region with an ever-expanding repertoire.”

The Oregon Symphony’s 2017/18 Season officially opens on September 16, when the renowned George Takei emcees the Opening Night concert and narrates Copland’s stirring Lincoln’s Portrait.