Symphony Sees Red

SSO posts a huge deficit. Plus: Decibel Fest and Pacific Northwest Ballet news.

Symphon Sees Red

Another year older and deeper in debt: After a bruising year of internal strife, Seattle Symphony Orchestra announced that it lost over $2 million in 2005–06, bringing its total deficit to $3.2 million. That's a giant red mark— unprecedented in the history of the century-old institution. Board chair Ron Woodard, speaking at SSO's annual meeting Monday afternoon, blamed the shortfall on soft ticket sales and the loss of a $5 million grant from the Charles Simonyi Foundation that ended in 2005. Expenses have held steady at about $21 million for the past two years. On the plus side, the orchestra's endowment had grown to $29 million as of June 30 (not including a recent $5 million anonymous grant), and subscriptions and percent of revenue derived from ticket sales remains uncommonly high. Still, Woodard gloomily predicted that last season's deficit would not be the symphony's last. He made no allusion to the orchestra's backstage turmoil—the growing controversy over longtime music director Gerard Schwarz and the precipitate departure of executive director Paul Meecham in June—except to say it had been "a year of challenge and change." And how. Meanwhile, musicians' representative Tim Hale made some interestingly oblique comments extolling the benefits of open debate and disagreement: "Let's just have at it, clear the air, and move on," he said. GAVIN BORCHERT AND LYNN JACOBSON

Turning it up

Last weekend saw four nights of hands-in- the-air, boogie-till-the-lights-come-on silliness at Seattle's Decibel Festival—our mini version of the famous Montreal electronic music bash, Mutek. The turnout looked excellent; we met people who'd traveled from as far as Boulder, Colo., to join the fun. Geeks, men, and geeky men outnumbered women and glittered-up ravers 10-to-1, but it was all smiles and hotness. In addition, there was the thrill of hardly recognizing anyone, which proves that either the techno scene here has many bedroom lurkers or that people were willing to travel for the fest's killer lineup, including the Nortec Collective, an Apparat/Alex Smoke double whammy, and Green Velvet. RACHEL SHIMP

Kurtz 2 for 2

Last week in the print edition of Seattle Weekly, dance writer Sandra Kurtz speculated that Carla Körbes and Casey Herd might soon be promoted to the principal ranks of Pacific Northwest Ballet. (The company had announced that promotions were in the works, but wouldn't name names.) Sure enough, at PNB's season-opening gala last Saturday, artistic director Peter Boal announced that Körbes and Herd would advance to the troupe's highest rank. Then the two dancers put the exclamation point on the announcement by dancing the White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake. Maybe now Sandra can tell us who will succeed George Bush in 2008? Sandra? Please? LYNN JACOBSON

 
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