Once more, the Long Island Philharmonic saves its best for the last day of the year.
For the second straight year, there is no subscription season for Philharmonic fans and Long Island classical music lovers. "But we're pretty much on track in our three-year plan," says Philharmonic board president Jack Russell. "This is one of the concerts we can do and still make money."
While "Broadway & Hollywood" offers familiar stage-and-screen fare -- "Tonight" from "West Side Story" and the Tara theme from "Gone With the Wind" -- music director David Stewart Wiley says, "I'm excited to conduct for our Long Island audiences the concert premiere of my new 'Concentric Circles' for orchestra, composed for the new Jane Seymour film 'Lake Effects.' "
TAKING A BOW Besides the full orchestra -- rarely heard since its summer-in-the-parks series -- the New Year's Eve show also features a quartet of Broadway singers: Matt Cavenaugh, whose credits include "West Side Story" (Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk nominations) and "Grey Gardens"; Jenn Gambatese, Jane in Broadway's "Tarzan"; Sean MacLaughlin, Raoul in "Phantom of the Opera," and Michele Ragusa, who succeeded Megan Mullally in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein." The 7:30 start means you'll be out in time for midnight celebrations to welcome 2012.
But this isn't the Philharmonic's first holiday gig of the season. "The county was so pleased with our Eisenhower Park concert last summer," Russell says, "that they hired us for a holiday concert at Mitchel Field." The invitation-only event for Nassau County employees and guests of sponsors Bethpage Federal Credit Union and JJT Energy drew 1,000 people to an indoor soccer facility. Sponsors and a motel-hotel tax for cultural events covered the cost.
FAVORABLE FUTURE? "Our recovery plan is to get back on our feet in three years," says Russell. "We're on a stable budget at the moment" -- just under $1 million from a peak of about $2 million annually. "Cash flow is always a big problem," says Russell. "This concert should help us proceed with our spring education program," which includes Philharmonic musicians mentoring students for side-by-side concerts -- paid for by BOCES, budgets for music education and PTA funds. Those costs, mostly in musicians' pay, are borne up front.
Though Russell makes no predictions, the Philharmonic may be in position to take the next step -- announcing a limited concert season -- by this time next year.
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WHAT Long Island Philharmonic, David Stewart Wiley conducting
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