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Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra members playing on despite issues

Posted at 11:27 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 23:27:26-04

INDIANAPOLIS — With concert halls closed and symphony seasons canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians are finding creative ways to still share their love for music.

Behind the music, members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra are struggling.

In a perfect world, music is the only thing Roger Roe would be talking about. As an Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra member since 1995, the oboist and English horn player knows how important the orchestra is to the community.

"We love the orchestra, we love the city, we love our neighbors," Roe said. "Being a musician means you can make art for everyone in the city, so as the city comes back to life we can be here for it."

But now, things are up in the air.

"We didn't come to the public until now because I kept thinking maybe they'll change their minds," Roe said.

Roe said ISO's management has not only furloughed them but also eliminated their health insurance.

"To know that we're the only orchestra in the country doing this makes me especially sad, it makes all of us sad," Roe said.

The decision has upset many people in the community and they're letting the ISO know.

Going over the symphony's most recent financial records shows in 2019, their foundation had more than $97 million with $21 million allocated for general purposes.

Symphony musicians thought they had found a solution.

"From day one in March, we asked what about the endowment? Surely you can use some of the endowment but the answer was no and we're cutting off your healthcare on June 7," Roe said.

So now the musicians, who don't have many more options, are looking toward the 2020-2021 season.

"All we want to do is to be able to have talks with the management about how the orchestra comes back safely in September. That's all we're after," Roe said. "There's no ulterior motive. We make music. We want to make music."

WRTV reached out to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday about the situation. A spokesperson said they were working on a statement but we've not heard back from them.