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One year in, Symphoria plans for the future


Symphoria, the successor to the defunct Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, has one year under its belt.  And organizers believe so far, so good.

And as the fledgling orchestra closes the books on its first year, Symphoria managing director Catherine Underhill estimates musicians played to 45,000 people. It has been trying to attract a new audience, with things like its “Spark” series, which creates more social music going experiences. But Underhill says the organization knows they need to keep growing.

“We didn’t quite finish the season in ticket sales where we’d like to be, but we’re ahead in some other areas. Same with the expense side -- there’s some things we’re behind on, some things we’re ahead on,” said Underhill. “But we’re going to finish the year in the black, and that’s the most important thing.”

Symphoria is operating on a $1.5 million budget in the form of a cooperative, made up of former SSO musicians. Underhill says she’s found  audiences this year very receptive, but says more work needs to be done, especially in attracting more business support, and getting the salaries higher for musicians, who are last to be paid under this arrangement.  

The organization will be doing some strategic planning this summer, with a new musical director coming on board this fall.

“We really need to  be focused, with the musicians and staff on board, what our near term, say three years, where do we need to be and how to we need to get there,” said Underhill.

Symphoria has announced its next season, which will again include a mix of masterworks, pops, casual works, and this spark series. And they’ll be expanding the children’s concerts, and making more inroads into local schools.

“I think that the audience of the future are the kids who are in school, whether it’s elementary, middle or high school. And so connecting them with a great experience with classical music, or orchestral music of any sort is important.”  

The new music director could also change the complexion of seasons down the road.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.