BSO tours of Europe and Orient put on hold

December 20, 1990|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's plans for tours in Europe in the spring of 1992 and in Japan, the Far East and Canada at other times are on indefinite hold today because of the economic downturn.

The BSO said it would postpone its third concert tour of Europe in April and May 1992 and "re-evaluate the entire touring program," said John Gidwitz, executive director. The tour would have cost more than $1 million, of which $750,000 would have come from extra donations and the rest from concert tour fees.

More serious fiscal problems forced another Baltimore music institution, the Baltimore Opera, to cancel a $500,000 "Tristan und Isolde" in favor of a $215,000 Wagner concert in December because of its mounting deficit. Michael Harrison, the general director, said this week he was optimistic the opera would solve its financial problems. He provided no details.

The BSO had planned to perform in spring 1992 for the first time in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and also return to countries on its 1987 tour -- Austria, Britain, Germany and Italy -- according to announced plans in September 1990. Plans to tour the Orient and Canada were also mentioned then.

The BSO board of directors decided this fall that "the environment in Maryland" for raising the extra money was doubtful, Gidwitz said. On a self-imposed decision date of Nov. 1, "we were getting mixed signals," so the decision was postponed. Finally, this Monday the board decided no go.

Citing the "very difficult economic climate in Maryland," Decatur H. Miller, board president, said, "By taking this step, we help to assure that we remain on track in our commitment to put the Baltimore Symphony on a sound financial basis."

Gidwitz said the BSO's annual fund drive in 1990-91, with its $2.6 million goal, 18 percent above last year, was "on track." The goal was part of a long-range plan to reach $3 million in 1992. The BSO said it needed a 42 percent increase over the next two years to compensate for the end of the state bridge grant in 1991-92. The final $1 million installment comes in July 1991. The BSO continues to count on the state's 10 percent funding of the arts.

This season, its 75th, the BSO plays on March 4 at Carnegie Hall in New York but has no tour planned after four years of concert trips under David Zinman, music director. The European tour in 1987 included the Soviet Union. The musicians toured the United States in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Sergiu Comissiona took the BSO on its first European tour in 1981.

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