Nashville Symphony musicians slam bankers on foreclosure - WSMV Channel 4

Nashville Symphony musicians slam bankers on foreclosure notice

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV-AP) -

The musicians of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra are speaking out after the announcement Thursday that Bank of America has placed the symphony in foreclosure and scheduled an auction date for the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

The Nashville Musicians Association - the union group representing symphony players - blasted the banks in a statement Friday, calling the Schermerhorn auction date "absurd."

They also pointed out that the same bank is scheduled to sponsor the symphony's Pops concert series for the 2013-14 season.

And the union questioned the symphony's expenses to pay administrators, attorneys and accountants.

"Music of all genres is in demand in Nashville. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center is a jewel in the crown of Music City and sits mere yards across from the brand new $585 million dollar Music City Convention Center," the group added in a statement.

The musicians' contract with the symphony expires July 31, and the symphony's financial standing with the banks will certainly factor greatly in negotiations of the next contract.

Schermerhorn faces public auction

The Nashville Symphony faces foreclosure, and an auction of the beloved Schermerhorn Symphony Center is set for later this month.

The symphony owes more than $82 million in bonds that have already been called in, and the symphony and its lenders decided earlier this year not to seek a renewal of their letter of credit backing those bonds.

A public auction for the Schermerhorn is scheduled for 11 a.m. on June 28.

The symphony could delay a sale by filing for bankruptcy protection.

According to recent tax filings, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra suffered an $11.7 million loss in the fiscal year ending July 31, 2012.

Contributions dropped from $14.7 million to just under $10.6 million. Investment income dropped from $6.4 million to $2.2 million.

The Nashville Symphony released a statement Thursday:

"The Nashville Symphony is aware that its bank lenders have filed a notice of foreclosure and that an auction of the Symphony's Schermerhorn Center has been scheduled for June 28. Negotiations with the bank group are continuing, and the Symphony and its Financial Advisory Committee remain squarely focused on achieving a resolution that positions the Symphony for long-term stability.

This is a highly sensitive and fluid situation and we cannot speculate on the outcome. Our preferred course of action remains to reach an agreement out of court. That said, the Symphony Board understands and accepts its responsibility to act as necessary to protect the assets of the Symphony. We are preparing appropriate measures to help ensure that the Symphony continues to operate normally and pursue its important cultural and educational mission."

In April, Mayor Karl Dean said the prospect of possibly losing the landmark downtown concert hall is currently out of the city's hands.

"What's going on at the symphony right now, in terms of their financing and those issues, is really an issue between private parties, and the city isn't part of that. Obviously, we support the symphony, and we think it is a wonderful part of our city," Dean said.

When asked if the city would help bail the symphony out, the mayor said, at that point, nobody had asked the city to intervene.

"At this point we're observing, and we're watching closely," Dean said. "It is an amazing part of the cultural options that are offered here in Nashville, and we want to see that continue. So, we'll just continue to monitor the situation."

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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