Embattled South Florida Symphony cancels December concerts

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Plagued by financial problems and harshly criticized by former musicians for nonpayment of services, the fledgling South Florida Symphony has cancelled its December concerts.

The program, which was to be performed Dec. 1, 2, and 5 in Key West, the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale and the Lincoln Theatre in Miami Beach, was to have featured violinist Lara St. John in works of Mozart and Sarasate with conductor Sebrina Maria Alfonso also leading the orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.

Responding to inquiries in a brief email, the orchestra’s CEO Jacqueline Lorber would only say that the December concerts have been “postponed,” and that the orchestra is “[g]oing forward w/rest of season.” The South Florida Symphony’s next scheduled concerts are slated for Jan. 28-Feb 1 with pianist Barry Douglas.

As of Saturday morning, the orchestra’s website gives no indication that the December concerts are cancelled or about ticket-buyers receiving refunds or a rescheduling of dates.

The former Key West Symphony announced an ambitious season in September with top-flight soloists and venturesome programming to be performed across three counties.

The ensemble’s inaugural program in October with violinist Chee-Yun received a positive review on this site. But it also unleashed a firestorm of scathing criticism in the form of posted comments from former musicians who were never paid for past performances of the ensemble as the Key West Symphony. More recently, at least one musician has claimed nonpayment of services for the October concert as well.

Lorber said that she will supply more information next week about the symphony’s financial situation and future course.

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to “Embattled South Florida Symphony cancels December concerts”

  1. Posted Nov 21, 2010 at 5:33 am by PISSED OFF MUSICIAN

    Well thats nice. Jaqculene is responding to something. This is what it takes for the them to respond. This is why this situation is so sad and pathetic. NO COMMUNICATION!!!!!!!!! And of course there is nothing in the website about cancelled concerts. NO COMMUNICATION!!!

  2. Posted Nov 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm by Unpaid musician #50?

    This cancellation is appropriate. It is morally wrong to continue to do business as an orchestra without satisfying the growing (they can be sued for the principal plus interest) debt. It is morally wrong for other musicians to agree to play for this ensemble until their colleagues are paid. The conductor and her *ahem* CEO are no doubt still getting salaries, and I imagine they have been throughout their so-called crisis.

  3. Posted Nov 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm by Working Musician

    For the record, not only did the Key West symphony not pay us our fee, they also required us to buy our own plane tickets to Key West, which were supposed to be reimbursed, but never were. Since a cellist(like me) has to pay for a second seat for his instrument to be onboard, instead of getting paid our $750, this gig actually COST me $600. They just pocketed that money and moved on with a big middle finger and the silent treatment.

    Also for the record, since it is a non profit, they were required to post their financials GuideStar. Sebrina(conductor) took home a hefty $70,000 for a four week season last year. So if the orchestra goes under, I think we better not see any alligator tears from her.

  4. Posted Nov 22, 2010 at 11:46 pm by Katie Kresek

    I would just like to point out that the harsh criticism has, from what I have observed from my colleagues, only developed after many months of fair and reasonable requests to CEO Lorber for truthful communication went completely ignored. These musicians who have not been paid (myself included) are all wonderful, professional people, many of whom had been going down there for years and had developed very good relations with the administration over time. We even played the concert knowing we weren’t getting paid. Jacqueline Lorber gave us a haze of excuses and then said we would have the money within two weeks – she said we would get checks, and then never sent them. On top of that, we were then told months later that the orchestra would pay us back in installments – which has not happened either. She then posted a comment on the blog that assured the public that she had crafted a “mutually agreeable” payment plan with the musicians. This is not true.

    No one wants to be harsh (especially in the fragile state of this economy) to an arts organization that provides us with work and provides a deserving, friendly community with great music. But it is not okay to tell lies both to and about your musicians, and it is no wonder that the harsh commentary has reared its ugly head. I hope the general public understands this. There have been some extremely nasty comments made by observers who have called the musicians “spoiled” and “ungrateful” and it has even been suggested that the musicians have drawn support away from the orchestra. It needs to be said that it is both inappropriate and manipulative to make the victims out to be the perpetrators in this situation. I hope the community and donors will do all they can to support the arts in the area, and I hope CEO Lorber will apologize for her false statements and make things right with the players.

  5. Posted Sep 07, 2011 at 6:15 pm by Unpaid musician #50?

    Just an update from one of the scores of unpaid musicians of the Key West / South Florida Symphony. As of this date we still remain unpaid. I would encourage anyone to investigate whether or not Music Director Alfonso and/or CEO Lorber HAVE. I still believe whatever money there was went into the massive gas tank on Alfonso’s twin-engine fishing boat.

Leave a Comment

Sat Nov 20, 2010
at 10:58 am