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Carole Mikita Reporting Keith Lockhart says he has no doubts his orchestra will survive, even thrive, as it faces a big financial challenge. Keith Lockhart says he remains committed to the new Utah Symphony and Opera combination, and is willing to do what he needs to, to improve both donations and ticket sales.
Playing under pressure, the musicians of the Utah Symphony and Opera find themselves making headlines instead of music. Ticket sales and donations are down to the tune of millions of dollars. Keith Lockhart says they are hardly alone; he estimates two-thirds of all American orchestras are facing the same situation. It's bigger news here because of the merger.
Keith Lockhart, Music Director, Utah Symphony: " I wish that the merger had happened when the industry was in one of its sunniest periods, because I think then the full successes possible would have been readily apparent. As it is, it's almost as if we jumped into the same lifeboat at the time the seas got rough."
Lockhart lowers his baton in other venues, most notably as conductor of the Boston Pops. Each summer he returns to find his picture on every street corner, making music in the famed Hatch Shell. Problem is, he says, this orchestra and opera comprise the largest such institution in the smallest market that supports so much art. He calls it an imaging problem.
Keith Lockhart: "I have anecdotally heard of people who have seen something that I have done on television from Boston and talked about how much they enjoyed it and been surprised to hear that I was music director of the Utah Symphony. And these are people who live in Salt Lake."
He has studied the recent consultant's report calling for significant changes in the organization of the structure. But he says what the group most needs are creative and original ways to secure an audience and future funding.
Lockhart and the musicians and the opera are preparing for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' which opens March 12th.