LI Philharmonic's 1st of 2 summer concerts

Long Island Philharmonic will play at Eisenhower Park,

Long Island Philharmonic will play at Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, July 5, Heckscher Park, Huntington, Aug. 10, and Brookhaven Amphitheater, Farmingville, date to be announced. (Credit: Bruce Gilbert)

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The Long Island Philharmonic opens an abbreviated summer concert season Friday night at Eisenhower Park's Lakeside Theater, followed by fireworks by Grucci.

The all-American program ranges from "Sousa marches to Broadway favorites," says music director David Stewart Wiley, who conducts tonight's concert as well as the Philharmonic's performance Aug. 10 in Huntington's Heckscher Park. Both events are free.

But the Philharmonic will not be making its annual Islip Arts Council appearance at East Islip's Heckscher State Park July 13. "We couldn't afford them," says council director Lynda Moran. "They didn't have any money and we didn't either. The town [of Islip] has cut way back," Moran said, though Islip is contributing $10,000 to the Heckscher State Park concert.

But, Philharmonic board president Jack Russell says it costs $30,000 "just to stage a concert for an orchestra of our size" -- about 60 musicians -- plus another $60,000 in wages and benefits. Instead, the arts council hired the less costly Atlantic Wind Symphony and the Swingtime Big Band.

LONG-RANGE GOAL Meanwhile, the Philharmonic is proceeding -- cautiously -- with its long-term plan to return to a subscription season of concerts. The Philharmonic received a $50,000 grant in 2010 from the Port Washington-based Horace and Amy Hagedorn Fund to hire consultants to create a sustainability plan. "Their primary recommendation was to hire a full-time development person," says Russell, "to raise money -- our goal was $600,000. We applied for a $200,000 state grant to hire a development director. The Economic Development Council recommended us. But we didn't get it. We appealed to NYSCA" -- the New York State Council for the Arts. "We've been encouraged to reapply next year."

The Philharmonic board is "sticking to our decision not to do any concerts that we won't at least break even on," Russell says. As a result, the Philharmonic is living within its means -- an annual budget of about $1 million -- while paying down its $700,000 debt by $150,000, according to Russell -- including about $80,000 owed to its freelance musicians. The Philharmonic fulltime staff has been reduced to three -- from eight at the time of the last subscription season in 2009-10.

INDOOR CONCERTS Although it plays only two summer concerts, the Philharmonic was hired for Tilles Center's recent "Here to Stay" Gershwin concert. The Philharmonic also has been hired by Nassau County to play a December gig at Mitchel Field's arena. And Tilles will host the Philharmonic's annual New Year's Eve gala.

"We're moving toward our goal," Russell says. "Just not as fast as we'd like."

WHAT Long Island Philharmonic Concert

WHEN | WHERE Friday night at 7:30, Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre, Eisenhower Park, East Meadow

ADMISSION Free; liphilharmonic.org, 631-293-2222

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