LI Philharmonic extends conductor's contract

The Long Island Philharmonic, with David Stewart Wiley

The Long Island Philharmonic, with David Stewart Wiley conducting, presents "A Salute to the Armed Forces" concert at Heckscher State Park, East Islip, complete with fireworks. (July 16, 2011) (Credit: Bruce Gilbert)

The Long Island Philharmonic has extended the contract of its music director, David Stewart Wiley, through 2015. Tuesday's announcement all but ensures that the financially troubled Philharmonic will continue for at least three more years.

"We've stabilized things," Philharmonic president Jack Russell said Tuesday. "We're hopeful about some grants we've applied for that will enable us to add two concerts -- one in the winter and one next spring. Our success in matching the grants will determine how soon we'll be able to go back to a subscription season."

The traditional fall-to-spring subscription season was suspended two years ago due to cash flow problems in the Philharmonic's $1 million annual budget. According to Russell, the board determined that concerts would no longer be scheduled without the prospect of at least breaking even. Russell said that the Philharmonic, currently Long Island's only resident professional orchestra, has achieved its goal over the past 12 months of "sustaining our program, which means raising $1 million."

The only remaining scheduled concert this year, following four free concerts this summer -- all sponsored -- is the annual New Year's Eve program at Tilles Center, which turns a profit for the orchestra.

Philharmonic board chairman Larry Austin said he is "delighted" that Wiley has signed on for another three years. "He's been a tremendous music director and a real crowd-pleaser. He stuck with us through the tough times and we're looking forward to putting together a season with him in the near future," Austin said.

"I'm privileged to serve as music director of the LI Philharmonic," Wiley said. Besides concerts, Wiley is also involved in the Philharmonic's music education outreach to schools, which has expanded as the concert schedule has contracted.

Wiley also continues as music director of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra in Virginia.

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