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GPO IN DIRE STRAITS (article first published : 2004-02-29)

The popular Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra (GPO), previously the Durban City Orchestra, the oldest philharmonic orchestra in the country, and the only teaching orchestra in the country, is currently looking an uncertain future in the eye.

This popular orchestra under the baton of Philipp Maier has grown tremendously popular over the past two years of existence as the Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra. Recognising the importance of this art form and the contribution it makes to society, it has been extremely gratifying for Gateway Theatre of Shopping to be able to produce regular free monthly Sunday Symphonies to the public in Gateway’s Palm Court. However, the continuation of these concerts, now seems uncertain.

“Gateway Theatre of Shopping would like to inform our patrons and in particular, patrons of the Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra, that although the Orchestra has not given any performances at Gateway this year, we have not withdrawn our sponsorship of the Orchestra”, says General Manager Mike Rodel. “The sponsorship offer for 2004 is consistent with the level of the sponsorship provided during the first year of the Orchestra. However, the Orchestra's financial requirements have grown well beyond our capacity to fund it, and for practical reasons the Orchestra cannot reduce their concert schedule to fit our sponsorship offer”, he said.

Furthermore, when the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra withdrew certain of their musicians from playing for the Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra in 2002, extra musicians had to be brought in from Johannesburg to be able to continue with the Gateway Sunday Symphonies.

An additional sponsor was sought to fund the balance but without success. The Orchestra, which has subsequently grown from 52 to 60 musicians, now urgently requires additional funding and co-sponsors to accommodate all financial needs in order to keep the orchestra alive.

“It will certainly be a sad day if the decision had to be made to discontinue the Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra”, said Public Relations Manager, Annamarié Geldenhuys. “Until presently, the Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra would not have been in existence were it not for Gateway’s financial sponsorship and Philipp Maier’s love of the orchestra. Driven by his total dedication to growing this art form and offering it to the community at large, free of charge, Philipp has offered his fulltime services to the Orchestra without taking any remuneration from the sponsorship deal.”

It is therefore with regret that Gateway informs patrons, that until further notice, no Sunday Symphony concerts will take place.




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