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Carnegie Hall Discontinues Jazz Orchestra

Carnegie Hall’s new executive and artistic director, Robert Harth, decided to eliminate the widely praised 16-member jazz band (shown left), led by trumpeter Jon Faddis, from its 2002-2003 schedule, and use the money saved to diversify the jazz programming.

“It’s really a question of using our resources in that area in a different manner,” Harth said at a news conference on Wednesday. “Supporting our own jazz ensemble limits our ability in terms of the varied programming to respond to changing audience tastes and provide for a wider variety of artists.”

Despite a weak economy, Harth swears money wasn’t the reason for discontinuing the Orchestra. The Hall’s jazz concerts generally drew between 1,800 and 2,000 people in its main auditorium. Carnegie Hall seats 2,800 and needs 2,300 to 2,500 patrons to help recoup costs, though Harth admitted to the New York Times after the news conference that nearly everything they program loses money.

Jazz will still have a place in Carnegie Hall, just not with the band that Faddis has led since 1993. Concerts promoted by the JVC Jazz Festival, in June, and the Verizon Music Festival, in September, will still occur at the Hall. And by saving money by not having its own jazz orchestra, which did original arrangements for nearly everything it played, Carnegie hopes to be able to present a wider array of jazz in its hallowed halls.

Originally Published