Florida Philharmonic Orchestra
The Florida Philharmonic Orchestra (or FPO, founded in 1985 as the Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida) was a symphony orchestra based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, and serving the South Florida metropolitan area
South Florida metropolitan area
The South Florida metropolitan area, also known as the Miami metropolitan area, and designated the Miami–Fort Lauderdale–Pompano Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area by the U.S...

 (including Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties
County (United States)
In the United States, a county is a geographic subdivision of a state , usually assigned some governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 of the 50 states; Louisiana is divided into parishes and Alaska into boroughs. Parishes and boroughs are called "county-equivalents" by the U.S...

). With approximately 80 musicians, the orchestra was led for most of its existence by British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

 and music director
Music director
A music director may be the director of an orchestra, the director of music for a film, the director of music at a radio station, the head of the music department in a school, the co-ordinator of the musical ensembles in a university or college , the head bandmaster of a military band, the head...

 James Judd
James Judd
James Judd is a British conductor. He is considered one of the pre-eminent interpreters of English orchestral music and the music of Gustav Mahler....

. The orchestra folded after extensive financial problems, performing their last concert in Boca Raton, Fla., on May 9, 2003.


The Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida (POOF) was formed through a merger of two smaller South Florida orchestras, the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra
Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra
The Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra was a Fort Lauderdale, Florida based symphony orchestra founded in 1949 by high school band director John Canfield. The orchestra developed from an amateur group to a semi-professional orchestra with Emerson Buckley at the helm in 1963...

 and the Boca Raton Symphony Orchestra
Boca Raton Symphony Orchestra
The Boca Raton Symphony Orchestra was a Boca Raton, Florida based chamber orchestra founded in 1983 by Paul McRae, the principal trumpet with the Fort Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra...

. Though the orchestra was officially founded on February 15, 1985, the merger had existed on a "de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 basis" since August 1984. The new orchestra filled an artistic void in the South Florida area left after the collapse of the Miami Philharmonic Orchestra in 1982.

Early years

Emerson Buckley
Emerson Buckley
Emerson Buckley An American Orchestral conductor born in New York City. Buckley graduated from Columbia University in 1934 and made his conducting debut that same year at age 20...

, the music director of the Fort Lauderdale orchestra since 1963, continued as music director of the new orchestra until stepping down from the podium in 1986. At this early period in the orchestra's existence, the orchestra began seeking to compete on a national level for musicians and prestige, hiring British conductor James Judd as music director in May 1987 after his frequent guest appearances with the orchestra. At the beginning of his tenure, Judd expressed optimism for the future of classical music
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 in South Florida.

The 1990s

In December 1990, the orchestra changed its name to the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra.

In what may represent one of the greater accomplishments of the orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic recorded Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 1 (Mahler)
The Symphony No. 1 in D major by Gustav Mahler was mainly composed between late 1887 and March 1888, though it incorporates music Mahler had composed for previous works. It was composed while Mahler was second conductor at the Leipzig Opera, Germany...

 in September 1993. The album, released in August 1994, was declared the best Mahler recording of the year by the Gustav Mahler Society, as well as Recording of the Month for August 1994 by Stereophile
Stereophile is a monthly magazine that focuses on high end audio equipment, such as loudspeakers and amplifiers, and audio-related news, such as online audio streaming. It was founded in 1962 by J. Gordon Holt....

, who declared "this is one of the best orchestral recordings of the digital era."

The orchestra continued to grow in size, quality and prestige throughout the 1990s while under the direction of Judd, who initially had an amicable relationship with the musicians, however nagging financial struggles combined with disputes between the musicians and management led to increasing discord which culminated in a strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 in the autumn of 2000.

2000 Strike

Contract negotiations during the summer of 2000 hit frequent sticking points, and tensions between the musicians and management hit an all-time high, with Sun-Sentinel music writer Lawrence A. Johnson suggesting that a strike was inevitable at this point given the ever-increasing tension within the organization through the 1990s. The primary point of debate was regarding the orchestra's wages, which were well below average. In 1991, music director James Judd argued that if management couldn't raise the musicians' salaries up to the level of Atlanta Symphony by 1993, then "there is a limit to what I can do for the orchestra." Nine years later in 2000, the orchestra was nowhere near that goal.

The management's last offer before what would have been the start of the 2000-01 season consisted of a 5 percent increase over one year. This was dismissed as "extremely disrespectful" by union representative Andrew Lewinter, who further commented that after two years of surpluses, it was time for the orchestra's salaries to catch up after pay freezes and concessions made by the musicians though harder economic times in the 1990s. The union's demands were derided by management attorney Susan Potter Norton as being based on "faulty logic". The musicians' union called a strike on September 25, however during the strike the musicians continued to perform free community concerts on a volunteer-basis, not organized by the orchestra management.

The month-long strike ended after the orchestra accepted a 30 percent pay increase over five years, though many musicians expressed frustration for what they considered a "vote for surrender" on job security issues. The musical silence ended on October 26, 2000, with a program of Beethoven's Fifth
Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1804–08. This symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies. It comprises four movements: an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast...

 and Sixth Symphonies
Symphony No. 6 (Beethoven)
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, also known as the Pastoral Symphony , is a symphony composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, and was completed in 1808...

 at Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Broward Center for the Performing Arts
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a large multi-venue theater and entertainment complex located in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA....


Judd resignation

The period of time after the strike was marked by increasing economic difficulties. The Philharmonic in 2001 announced efforts to fight off their financial woes, with pay concessions on the part of the musicians and cut-backs in the management structure, however this was quickly overshadowed by a major change to the orchestra's staff in the later part of the year. In November 2001, the Florida Philharmonic's music director of nearly fifteen years, James Judd, announced his resignation by releasing a press release to the media. When asked about Judd's departure, Bob Levinson, chairman of the Philharmonic's board is quoted as having responded "It's news to me. You're telling me something I don't know."

The cracks in Judd's relationship with the orchestra had turned into an abyss by this point, with management blaming Judd's "mildly adventurous" and expensive programming for declining box office performance, and the orchestra's successful attempt to revoke Judd's power to unilaterally dismiss musicians who he considered not up to the task. His resignation came on the heels of the formation of an artistic committee which would share control with Judd over matters of programming.

James Judd was swiftly replaced on November 27, just seven days after his resignation, by veteran violinist and conductor Joseph Silverstein
Joseph Silverstein
Joseph Silverstein is an American violinist and conductor.As a youth, Silverstein studied with his father, Bernard Silverstein, who was a public school music teacher...

 who would take the title of Acting Music Director for two seasons.

Collapse and bankruptcy

The financial predicament of the orchestra hit crisis mode in the spring of 2003. By this time, the orchestra's 80 musicians had already accepted a cut to salaries and benefits totaling $3.2 million in savings, but in April, the orchestra's chairman, Daniel R. Lewis, announced that unless the orchestra could raise an additional $20 million, the orchestra could be facing bankruptcy by early May. The orchestra at this point had already retained a bankruptcy attorney, and some management officials were already announcing the imminent doom of the orchestra in the press.

Though the amount of money the orchestra required to continue operations was reduced to $4 million, Executive Director Trey Devey said to the Sun-Sentinel that they had had "no significant progress" in reaching that amount. The orchestra's final concert was played on May 9, 2003 in Boca Raton, FL. At the end of the concert, amidst tears among audience and orchestra members alike, and a thunderous applause that refused to end, Devey took the stage to plead for a "hero." Ninety minutes later, the orchestra announced that it was "terminating the employment" of its musicians.

The orchestra filled for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 14, 2003. Despite hopes of a possible re-organization of the orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic never emerged from bankruptcy. Hopes for reorganization were further stunted when the 10 year Miami residency of the Cleveland Orchestra was announced in 2007.

Controversy regarding bankruptcy

The collapse of the orchestra raised a number of suspicions regarding how the management of the orchestra reacted to its financial difficulties. Perhaps the most widely questioned piece of the controversy is the "ultimatum," issued by orchestra chairman Dan Lewis on April 22, stating that bankruptcy was imminent unless the community would produce $20 million. This approach to fundraising has been criticized as being excessively confrontational and unlikely to provide results as it could create an attitude of unwillingness to contribute to an organization whose bankruptcy was imminent anyway. Dan Lewis, however, has defended this step as necessary, citing time constraints and saying that "I feel good about what we did. I feel terrible about the outcome, but I think we did a good job."

Cleveland Orchestra and conflicts of interest

The Miami-residency of the Cleveland Orchestra, which was announced shortly after the collapse of the Florida Philharmonic, is also mentioned as an irritating factor insofar as diverting the community's donor base which should have been allocated to the reconstruction of a South Florida-based orchestra, with one former member of the orchestra stating that it would "definitely prevent Miami and South Florida from having a symphony orchestra in the near future." Another former employee, this one a former artistic advisor to the orchestra, commented that "it discourages and maybe deters people from contributing the money necessary and the energy necessary to start to build a quality orchestra in Miami."

The connection between the Cleveland Orchestra and the South Florida classical community is personified by Daniel Lewis, a native of Cleveland. Lewis, while serving on the board of the Florida Philharmonic made unprecedented contributions to the Cleveland group, including a single donation of $10 million, the orchestras largest ever. This has led to suggestions of a conflict of interest, given Lewis' financial support for the Cleveland Orchestra, questions regarding hasty and unprofessional handling of the Florida Philharmonic's financial problems, and his direct involvement in initiating Cleveland's residency in Miami during and after the Florida orchestra's collapse. Florida Philharmonic artistic adviser Julian Kreeger said that only "if one was paranoid" would one draw connections between Lewis and Cleveland's Miami residency. Others, including former musicians, assert that Lewis' motives when taking over the administrative leadership of the orchestra was to "kill the orchestra", paving the way for the Cleveland Orchestra's Miami-residency, which has financially proven quite fruitful for the Cleveland-based group.

Management issues

A Miami Herald editorial of May 15, 2003 pointed to managerial issues as significant to the overall collapse of the orchestra. Among these was how the financial difficulties seemed to catch the management by surprise, soaring with optimism one second, then the next announcing that "the end was near." The editorial also referenced constant rapid changes to the managerial staff as detrimental to establishing a real strategy for long-term growth.

Eyebrows have also been raised regarding orchestra chairman Daniel Lewis' April 22 fundraising-ultimatum, warning of the collapse of the orchestra if $20 million could not be produced imminently. One major donor to the South Floridian arts community commented that "it was ridiculous to ask for that kind of money in that time frame." Odder still was that when the community failed to produce the sum within 10 days, Lewis announced that they actually only needed $4 million, but definitely within a week, leading to the appearance that the orchestra's management didn't have a clear grasp of what they were doing.

Beethoven by the Beach

Beethoven by the Beach was an annual music festival
Music festival
A music festival is a festival oriented towards music that is sometimes presented with a theme such as musical genre, nationality or locality of musicians, or holiday. They are commonly held outdoors, and are often inclusive of other attractions such as food and merchandise vending machines,...

 held by the Florida Philharmonic. The festival first occurred in July 1997, and was repeated in July every subsequent summer of the orchestra's existence. In addition to performances of Beethoven's musical works, the festival also featured lectures, films, and later expanded to include performances of works
Work of art
A work of art, artwork, art piece, or art object is an aesthetic item or artistic creation.The term "a work of art" can apply to:*an example of fine art, such as a painting or sculpture*a fine work of architecture or landscape design...

 by other composers.

Beethoven Festival Youth Orchestra

As part of the 2002 Beethoven by the Beach Festival, the Florida Philharmonic formed the Beethoven Festival Youth Orchestra. This youth ensemble, directed by FPO violist
-Notable violists:A* Julia Rebekka Adler * Sir Hugh Allen , conductor* Kris Allen * Johann Andreas Amon * Paul Angerer , composer* Steven Ansell * Atar Arad * Cecil Aronowitz...

 Steven Svensson, performed one concert at the Broward County Main Library
Broward county library
The Broward County Library was established in 1973 as the result of a campaign by the Friends of the Fort Lauderdale Library in Florida, the United States. The system began issuing borrower cards on June 17 of 1974 for 270,000 items in four branches. Over the following three decades, many of the...

 on July 7, 2002, as well as a side-by-side with the FPO on July 13, before the Florida Philharmonic's bankruptcy the following summer.


Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Broward Center for the Performing Arts
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a large multi-venue theater and entertainment complex located in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA....

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida.-Facilities:The Kravis Center opened in 1992 and was constructed at a cost of $63 million. The center holds some 800 events each year with over 400,000 people in attendance annually...

West Palm Beach, Fla.
Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium
Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium
The Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium is a theater in Boca Raton, Florida on the campus of Florida Atlantic University. The 2400-seat hall was constructed in 1980 and opened in 1982.-External links:*...

Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University, also referred to as FAU or Florida Atlantic, is a public, coeducational, research university located in , United States. The university has six satellite campuses located in the Florida cities of Dania Beach, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter, Port St. Lucie, and in Fort...

Boca Raton, Fla.
Gusman Center for the Performing Arts
Miami, Fla.
Miami-Dade County Auditorium
Miami Fla.
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