On Thursday the Board of Directors of the Symphony Society of San Antonio, Texas announced the dissolution of the San Antonio Symphony, an arts organization that had been in existence for 83 years, with roots going as far back as 1887.
The board unanimously voted to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and "the assets of the Symphony now lie in the hands of a Trustee who will liquidate them, pay what creditors remain, and close the doors," according to a statement, which you can find on what remains of the symphony's website.
The statement also said that "The absence of a labor contract has effectively forced the Symphony to shutter its operations."
Longtime Violinist.com member Mary Ellen Goree, who was Principal Second Violinist of the symphony, disputed the statement, writing on her her Facebook page that "there is a labor contract in place (signature page), ratified by both the musicians and the board in the summer of 2019, expiring on August 31, 2022. Our board and management have done everything in their power to disregard this ratified labor contract, including prematurely declaring impasse last September and imposing draconian terms which they knew the musicians could not agree to."
The symphony had experienced considerable troubles since the 2017–18 season, when the organization that managed the symphony turned over its operations to a non-profit, which pulled out of the deal by the end of the year, threatening the season. Things were looking more hopeful in the following years, but then came the pandemic and, ultimately, the impasse last fall that Goree described. The 2021-22 season was canceled, though the musicians performed a series of concerts as the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony.
The San Antonio Symphony was founded in 1939 by conductor Max Reiter, a native of Trieste, Italy, who brought with him to America a background in symphonic and operatic repertoire. He served as the orchestra's first music director, and during its first season violinist Jascha Heifetz performed as guest artist.
It remained a strong organization through the mid-20th century, gaining status as a "major orchestra" in the 1940s and continuing its operations during the difficult years of World War II. Its financial difficulties began in the 1980s, as detailed in this timeline by Emily Hogstad.
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