Despite the ominous atmosphere currently surrounding struggling musical institutions like the New York Opera Company, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra, some major symphonies’ profits are soaring upward. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is one of these, with reports stating that a new contract will lift players’ wages by one percent every year. In addition, starting this week the minimum yearly salary for players will be upwards of $150,000.
So what is the LA Phil doing differently than other less fortunate institutions? Are they putting on all of the right concerts and attracting the best guest artists? Although their opening Gala concert includes a performance by Yo-Yo Ma, the rest of their 2013 program does not seem to contain any unusual repertoire for a typical symphony season.
Are the residents of Los Angeles more enthusiastic about their symphony? Does it have to do with the culture of the city? Is it the shiny, famously modern venue? Maybe, but in New York, the arts and culture capital of the United States, a revered opera company is floundering. LA is not a small town by any means, but maybe citizens of the gargantuan city of New York have different ideas about the importance of musical institutions.
On a more serious note, will this popularity last given the situations of other major orchestras in the US? Is the Los Angeles Philharmonic riding a bubble that will soon pop at the barest hint of another economic disaster? Or have they managed to find the secret to attracting audiences and donors year after year? Either way, this year the steps of the Walt Disney Concert Hall are destined once again to be filled with concertgoers, tourists and wedding parties just as it has in years past.