The Philadelphia Orchestra is looking to end a more than 30-year relationship with its longtime conductor, Peter Nero. The orchestra, which is facing bankruptcy, said the artistic director was too expensive.
It was reported last year that the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philly Pops filed for bankruptcy simultaneously. The more than a century-old orchestra led many to say it was a signal to the end of classical music in the United States and possibly the Western world.
The Associated Press reported the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, the parent organization of the Philly Pops, will be allowed to exit bankruptcy on an expedited schedule. Judge Eric Frank announced at a hearing Monday he will rule in favor of a timeline to have the orchestra appear in court on Jun. 28.
Lawrence McMichael, the orchestra's chief bankruptcy lawyer, said payment to creditors as soon as possible is being demanded by officials. It is also urging the orchestra to avoid legal and other professional fees for another month.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philly Pops introduced a motion in court Monday attempting to end a 33-year relationship with Peter Nero, its longtime music director. The Pops says Nero's contract is unaffordable and is "simply too economic burdensome."
In the meantime, the Pops is seeking a replacement and will introduce guest conductors as a measure to save money.
The Pops' latest attempt comes as it tried to renegotiate Nero's contract in the middle of his term – the contract expires on Jun. 30, 2014. He receives an annual salary of $513,000 and the Pops wants a 40 percent pay cut. That figure is being disputed by Nero, who explained that number includes transportation, office space, storage and other expenses needed to perform his job as artistic director and conductor.
Nero's attorney told the news outlet that Nero is not the problem in the Pops, but rather the new board that oversees the Pops is.
"We don't think it's Peter that needs to go, but the board that needs to go," said Albert A. Ciardi, Nero's lawyer, who noted he didn`t look at the motion in-depth, but will prepare a strategy. "We don't believe they have a very good business justification for doing this. Peter is the Pops, and the Pops is Peter."
The longtime conductor did not comment publicly on the situation, but told the outlet that he is optimistic. "I am completely confident that I will be leading the Philly Pops in our 11th year in front of Independence Hall."