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Bank donates assets from bankrupt Syracuse Symphony Orchestra

Symphonies around the country have been struggled through cuts to arts funding. This year, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra was supposed to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Instead, it declared bankruptcy in June.

The orchestra was a world-class orchestra that regularly brought major stars to town like Hilary Hahn. When the Symphony announced in June it could not repay millions of dollars in loans, M & T bank foreclosed on the ensemble’s assets, including its extensive sheet music library worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and instruments, including two expensive grand pianos. 

Thursday, M & T bank President Alan Naples said the sheet music will go to Syracuse University. The symphony’s archives of recordings will go to the Onondaga County Historical Society. 

“Just looking around this venue is the right place for that portion to be,” said Naples.

After the bankruptcy, Syracuse University announced plans to create a group called the Syracuse Philharmonic. Jon Garland, who chairs an ensemble formed by the laid-off musicians says he still doesn’t know if the new Philharmonic will have a place for its members. 

“Symphony Syracuse is a lifeboat organization. And we’ve always been hoping that someone would build an island for it to arrive on,” said Garland.

In tough economic times Garland says it’s tough to make the case for arts funding. But he says performances can help fill downtown streets on Friday and Saturday night, turning music into an economic engine. 

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