End of An Era: The Long Island Philharmonic 1980 – 2016
This past Monday, it was announced that after 36 years as the Island's longest continuously running performing arts institution, The Long Island Philharmonic would be closing its doors with immediate effect.
In the words of Elliot Sroka, the executive director emeritus of the Tilles Center – the Philharmonic's home for decades:
"It’s a tremendous loss for the community. The Philharmonic was founded as a way to show that a regional orchestra can be as good as any other from outside — and for years it was. The standards remained high, despite the cutbacks in concerts.”
Despite the organization's presence as a pillar of Long Island's classical community, the excellence of its much-loved regular performances, and the thousands of local students who have benefited from its school outreach programs, the Philharmonic finally fell under the weight of the financial problems by which it has been plagued for the last decade.
David Stewart Wiley, the organization's music director for 15 years, stated: "I’m terribly sorry to see another arts organization shut its doors [...] I’m really grateful that we were able to keep it going this long.”
As a small, but powerful piece of good news, Wiley also stated that with the help of Nassau BOCES, he and some of the Long Island Philharmonics musicians plan to continue working "on a freelance basis" with music students in the school districts the Philharmonic had made commitments to for the spring, adding: "These kids deserve our support."
The loss of The Long Island Philharmonic is yet another heartbreaking indicator of the place within our society where the fine arts have come to exist. As our time continues to find itself defined by financial difficulties, we are reminded all too often of how easy it is for the delicate balance necessary for the arts to thrive to be tipped.