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Maestro Litton Leads A Resurgent Debt Free Colorado Symphony

Courtesy of Colorado Symphony Orchestra

The Colorado Symphony Orchestra is hoping the talents of its newly appointed artistic advisor can keep the orchestra’s forward momentum after recovering from a $1.2 million debt.

In the 1990s, Maestro Andrew Litton helped orchestrate the financial resurgence of the once imperiled Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Litton is busy, he holds leadership roles at three other orchestras and will conduct 18 concerts with the CSO this season. In addition to his role with the CSO he is also Music Director of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic as well as Conductor and Artistic Director of Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest.

A number of symphony orchestras across the country are struggling financially. Just two years ago, there were fears that the Colorado Symphony could disappear. The musicians agreed to a pay cut and a new business model was adopted. In June 2012, Litton was appointed Artistic Advisor, assuming what the release describes [.pdf] as the “full duties and responsibilities for the artistic leadership of the Colorado Symphony.”

The CSO ended the 2011-2012 fiscal year with a $70,000 surplus and no outstanding debt.

Litton says to keep things moving forward he maximizes his time while in Denver, meeting with as many potential donors as possible in between rehearsals and performances. Litton made it clear though that concert goers are the life blood of the symphony.

“We’ve got to keep making programs that are attractive enough to a wide audience that we’ll continue to fill Boettcher Concert Hall, and that of course helps the bottom line as well,” said Litton.

Shows such as Colorado band DeVotchKa with Amanda Palmer and the Symphony at Red Rocks or a Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration featuring Warren Haynes are part of that focus on a wider audience.

There’s tech too. The CSO offers digital downloads of its music and videos, both authorized and un-authorized, are easily available online. Litton believes that technology helps lift interest in live performance.

“The great thing about the wide spread dissemination of our art all over the internet is that people get interested,” said Litton. “They go, ‘oh, that looks really cool. I’d love to hear that live. Oh look, the symphony is doing it this week. Let’s go.’”

The CSO has yet to post video of Litton at the podium, but there is this light moment shot during a recent rehearsal:


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