PCMS 2013-14 Season Recap

By Philip Maneval on September 26, 2014

Reflecting on our 2013-14 Season, I wanted to take a moment to thank you, our audience, for your attendance and support, and to share some of the more memorable highlights from the past year. We were pleased with the success of the season, as we continued to serve our musical and community goals, and to prepare for next season and beyond.

Concert Attendance Rises for the 5th Straight Year

Fortunately, despite all the snow last winter, we had no weather-related cancellations. Most of our 63 concerts were well-attended and, with your help, we saw an increase in total attendance for the fifth consecutive year.

Student and Young Friends Unlimited Passes

Student and Young Friends Unlimited Passes

The high quality of the musicians, our affordable prices and our friendly box office staff continue to attract new people. We benefited also from coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which reviewed 30 of our concerts. Happily, there was increased attendance by students and young adults (countering the common assumption that young people today do not care about classical music). Most took advantage of our full-season passes, which allow them to attend as many concerts as they wish for one low cost ($30 or $60).

Returning Favorites & Exciting Debuts 

In addition to bringing back top-flight international groups and recitalists, Tony and Miles continued to introduce up-and-coming musical leaders–young groups like the Dryden, Jasper, Jupiter and Pacifica Quartets; violinists Tim Fain, Augustin Hadelich and Bella Hristova; AVA-trained soprano Ailyn Pérez; flutist Julietta Curenton; and the outstanding Musicians from Marlboro players. Emerging musicians need such opportunities and exposure more than ever these days, and their performances always seem to be especially fresh and exciting.

We continued to present world-class musicians who are connected to other musical institutions in our city. Philadelphia Orchestra principals Juliette Kang, Jeffrey Khaner, David Kim and Ricardo Morales had the chance to shine in the chamber music repertoire, and there were wonderful performances involving Curtis Institute President Roberto Dí­az, and at least nine members of their illustrious faculty–as well as a concert by the Curtis Chamber Orchestra.

Gerald Finley

Gerald Finley

The 2013-14 season may have included the greatest variety of repertoire in our 28-year history. I had time one day on a train to New York, so I counted: there were works by more than 110 composers (25% of whom are still living). Just some of the more unusual programs were Louis Lortie’s performance of Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage; our evening of Bach cantata arias; Ignat Solzhenitsyn’s amazing rendition of Prokofiev’s great “War” sonatas; the marathon double concert of all Beethoven works for cello and piano by Peter Wiley and Anna Polonsky; and the deeply moving rendition of Schubert’s Die Winterreise by Gerald Finley and Julius Drake–a performance that I will never forget.

Community Partnerships

We continued our long-held practice of partnering with other nonprofits, allowing us to serve mutual goals in very cost-effective ways. This was the second year of our collaborative series with the Kimmel Center. We also expanded our programming at the American Philosophical Society and the Philadelphia Museum of Art–venues that offer particularly intimate settings. We again enjoyed our long-standing “Concerts for the Community Series” partnership with the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia (which, by the way, is America’s oldest continuing musical organization, founded in 1820).

Collaborations played a key role also in our Education Program. We expanded our partnership with Play on Philly!, the wonderful program created by the indomitable Stanford Thompson (and based on Venezuela’s famous El Sistema program). Throughout the year, many of our world-class musicians stayed in town a day or two longer to visit these schools, area colleges and community music programs to lead student master classes and workshops. It is like having an NFL quarterback come in to work with young athletes–exciting, informative, rather intimidating and inspiring all at once.


Balancing Our Budget

On the administrative side, we are projecting another balanced budget (which we have achieved in each of our 28 years). This was possible because of friends like you, whose support plays such a vital role–particularly since subscription and ticket sales account for only about one-third of our revenue. We project our budget to come in at about $1.4 million this year–quite modest for the scope of our season, with 110 concerts and educational programs.

25th_icon25th Anniversary Campaign

We continued to make progress with our 25th Anniversary Campaign. Our Board initiated this $2 million drive to create the “Anthony P. Checchia Artistic Director Chair” at PCMS–paying tribute to our visionary founder by helping to sustain his remarkable achievements–and establishing reserve funds for specific programming areas and our educational activities. As you surely know, funding for the arts can be highly unpredictable, so building these reserves (which are managed by some very astute PCMS board members) helps us all to sleep better at night. We have about $200,000 left to raise in order to declare victory. We are also seeking series sponsorships, which provide broad visibility (such as “naming opportunities”) for their donors.

We look forward to another busy and rewarding season in 2014-15. As always, if you need help with tickets or seating, don’t hesitate to call Brad or Patrick in our box office (215-569-8080). It is a real pleasure sharing each season with you!