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This weekend's performances to be SA symphony's last for foreseeable future

Pension woes undercut organization's ability to pay musicians

SAN ANTONIO – Despite performances scheduled through June, the San Antonio Symphony’s last concerts will be this weekend's Tricentennial Celebration.

All remaining concerts will be canceled and the symphony's musicians will receive their last paychecks.

A management group, Symphonic Music for San Antonio, backed out of a deal to take over the symphony in December due to a potential multimillion-dollar pension commitment.

“We are no longer a world-class city,” — a chilling comment on the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony Facebook page.

The mission of the San Antonio Symphony is to inspire and enrich the community by vigorously influencing the artistic fabric of San Antonio through excellent symphonic performance, education and service.

Symphonic Music for San Antonio Chairman Bruce Bugg Jr. said the musicians’ union — the American Federation of Musicians — told him of an underfunded pension obligation of more than $4 million, according to TPR.org.

In a statement, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said leaders are committed to finding a solution to make sure the symphony survives and thrives.

"A world class city needs a world class arts community," Nirenberg said. "Our symphony is a critical part of that vision."

A financial audit requested by SMSA didn’t reveal underfunded pension balances and the management group said it wasn’t in a position to assume liabilities.

The deficit was confirmed by Alice Viroslav, chairwoman of the Symphony Society of San Antonio, who cited a stock market dip and potential mismanagement that led to more than a 40 percent loss of the value of the pension.

“There’s actually an active lawsuit right now against the pension itself by some AFM (American Federation of Musicians) musicians because exactly the issues that we’re talking about. So this has nothing to do with anything that we did. This has to do with the overall management of the pension fund,” Viroslav told Texas Public Radio.

“The San Antonio Symphony is the soul of the arts in San Antonio,” — one more of the many comments left on the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony Facebook page.

The symphony will play its final performances from 8 - 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the H-E-B Performance Hall at the Tobin Center for Performing Arts.

Tickets purchased for performances scheduled after this weekend will be refunded.

The San Antonio Symphony was founded in 1939 and has 72 full-time musicians.


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