Bankruptcy court hears Symphony case Monday

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Federal bankruptcy court has a hearing Monday on the Honolulu Symphony, at which management intends to ask for conversion of the case from Chapter 11 bankruptcy to Chapter 7 liquidation and extinction.

"We are charged with fiscal responsibility and we have no other option," said Kim Miyasawa Frank, chairman of the Symphony board.

The Symphony board voted at an emergency meeting to ask for liquidation after seeing no workable way to reorganize under the current debt-ridden organization.

"After waiting an entire year for a reorganization plan, it was disappointing," said Jonathan Parrish on behalf of the musicians.

The Symphony Society said there was "sincere desire of all involved" to find a way to reorganize but management and the musicians were never able to close their differences, and payroll was by far the largest expense of the organization.

A statement from the musicians asserted that reorganizing the Symphony failed, not for lack of community support but reflected "lack of trust and confidence in the board."

Management and labor fell out over a research report that concluded Honolulu was too small to support a full season. The report said paying customers rarely filled more than half of Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Musicians questioned several premises of the analysis and rejected an abbreviated season that would have paid a fraction of what the musicians were paid before the financial crisis began.

Symphony management said over the summer that the musicians had resigned; they said they hadn't, and filed an unfair labor practice claim. Laer, they withdrew it, saying the decision was made in the interest of facilitating reorganization.

Several key musicians have left Hawaii to take posts with orchestras on the mainland. Most remain, but have drawn down savings or taken other jobs. The remaining musicians have been retained to perform with the Hawaii Opera Theatre and the ballet company for their regular seasons.

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