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BPO season had record ticket sales

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra kept its financial winning streak alive in the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, finishing with a $153,000 operating surplus on revenues of nearly $9.7 million, orchestra management reported.

Boosted by sold-out concerts by cellist Yo Yo Ma and soprano Renee Fleming and the well-attended second biennial JoAnn Falletta International Classical Guitar Competition, ticket sales reached $3.4 million -- the highest level in Philharmonic history.

Expenses were $9.5 million, nearly $200,000 lower than the previous year.

Moreover, contributed revenue exceeded $6.1 million -- 6 percent more than in fiscal 2004-05 -- helping lower the organization's debt and adding $1.1 million to its endowment, which now exceeds $9 million.

Further endowment growth will be essential to long-term stability, board Chairman Angelo M. Fatta stressed.

An orchestra needs an endowment three to five times the size of its budget to stay on sound fiscal footing, which translates to $30 million to $50 million for the BPO's $10 million budget, he said.

It is standard practice to return 5 percent of the endowment to the organization to help meet expenses.

The Philharmonic begins every fiscal year with a deficit of $1.4 million -- a gap that hard-working staff members and generous donors always seem able to close, Fatta said during the BPO annual meeting Monday in Kleinhans Music Hall.

An endowment of $30 million would yield $1.5 million -- just enough to make sure the orchestra wouldn't start the year in a hole.

Executive Director Daniel Hart presented service awards to Edward Yadzinski, a musician from 1963 to 1988, who serves as BPO historian and program annotator; Rose Fierro, an usher for 60 years; and Catherine Schweitzer, an orchestra trustee and executive director of the Baird Foundation.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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