Due to factors related to funding for the arts along with the downward turning in the United States economy, a proposal was made for the merger of the Utah Symphony along with the Utah Opera companies. The dire situation confronting the arts community became more and more apparent reaching a crisis level in 2001. The Utah Symphony Orchestra was close to a deficit as noted by Scott Parker, “Speed of action was essential...I knew that there was a possibility that we could quickly find ourselves over the edge,” (DeLong & Ager, 2004).There is very little precedence for mergers between a major symphony orchestra and opera companies in the history of the United States. The two examples offered in the history, the merger of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Madison Opera in 1963 along with the Chattanooga Symphony and the Chattanooga Opera in 1985, resulted in either the companies remaining intact for a period of time or in them separating due to different ideologies and methodologies. The two significant characters are Anne Ewers, who was asked to consider the position of CEO of the combined opera and symphony companies, and Keith Lockhart who is the very respected, long-time, music director and conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra. Both were invited to lead the merger in December, 2001. Given two very divergent cultures, they faced a very challenging process of uniting the two companies. The symphony environment is slow to change where as the opera was more adept to challenges and change. The executive committee felt ambivalent initially about the merger but due to the need to alleviate some of the financial pressures the organizations faced, they eventually agreed. However, opposition to the merger include members of the community as the audience and the musicians. Lockhart has a very delicate position as the musicians look to him to protect their interests. So he held in tension the trust of the musicians and the viability of the... [continues]
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