Symphony At Sunset Returns

Saturday, September 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa Philharmonic will bring back a popular family musical event this weekend with the return of "Symphony at Sunset."

The season opener also introduces a new direction for the orchestra.

"Symphony at Sunset" was a Tulsa tradition for years, drawing picnickers for a relaxed evening of music.

In recent years, though, the event struggled, along with the Tulsa Philharmonic's identity and financial stability.

Conductor Kenneth Jean left this year, frustrated over what he called Tulsans' weak support of the arts.

After a year of reorganization, orchestra management identified two goals for rebuilding.

"It has to be a part of the entire community, and that means doing concerts beyond the Masterworks Series, the Pops Series. Being in neighborhoods and being in schools," says Thomas Gerdom, Tulsa Philharmonic Interim Director.

Besides becoming more important to more people, Gerdom says the Philharmonic must overcome a credibility problem caused by its budget woes.

"You have to earn your way. And I think people had lost confidence in leadership and financial management," says Gerdom.

Gerdom says this year's three-point-two million-dollar budget is more realistic, and he's optimistic about fundraising plans, ticket sales and new programs to appeal to more different tastes.
" I just think that any orchestra in any community has to engage the entire community or it's not going to exist,” says Gerdom.

Philharmonic musicians are hopeful.

"We see things going in the right direction. We feel encouraged. And I mean we're here to play. This is our job. We're here to sit down and entertain and play for the people of Tulsa," says Timothy McFadden, Principal Trumpet.

“Symphony at Sunset” kicks off the new season and direction, also in a new location, the grounds of Harwelden mansion.

It's a somewhat intimate setting and very family oriented setting, and it's going to be a great place to bring the concert back to the people of Tulsa.

That's the Philharmonic's primary goal…to take music to the heart of Tulsa.

“Symphony at Sunset" is free to the public.

The grounds at Harwelden open at 4:30 Sunday for picnicking.

The concert is at 6:30, with a concert of classics and pop favorites.