National Philharmonic Credit: Photo via National Philharmonic

This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday: One week after announcing a final fundraising push to save its organization, The National Philharmonic announced late Tuesday night it will return to Strathmore for its 2019-20 concert season.

The National Philharmonic, the county’s largest classical music orchestra, received more than 400 donations through an online fundraising page, totaling more than $200,000, according to National Philharmonic Board of Directors Chairman Todd Eskelsen.

Earlier this month, National Philharmonic announced it would be closing after 14 years of performances at the Music Center at Strathmore, citing several years of financial issues. A week later, orchestra leaders launched the last-ditch fundraising campaign.

“We are gratified that people have such a strong attachment to National Philharmonic,” Eskelsen said in an interview. “We’re gratified to see people are energized and focused on saving National Philharmonic, and hopefully this is the beginning of financial stability.”

National Philharmonic board members are still considering a proposal from local businessman Jim Kelly who has offered to provide more than $500,000 in financial assistance, but only if the organization appoints Kelly as president and removes Eskelsen as board chair.

Eskelsen said he expects a decision by the end of next week.


“We’re trying to act in the best interests of National Philharmonic, and we’re disappointed about some of the other things that have been said and the way in which Jim conducted his presentation,” Eskelsen said. “There are cooperative ways to do it rather than the way he did, but now we have an obligation to consider it.”

When reached for comment Wednesday, Kelly indicated his offer is still on the table, despite National Philharmonic’s successful fundraising campaign.

“National Philharmonic’s fundraising is not enough to stabilize it, but it will certainly help under new management,” Kelly said, declining further comment.


Before announcing its impending closure, National Philharmonic had 14 shows canceled for its upcoming season, which begins in September. Eskelsen said he hopes musicians and staff who were laid off earlier this month will return.

Strathmore officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

National Philharmonic President Leanne Ferfolia wrote in a news release that she is “immensely grateful for the tremendous response from the community,” allowing The National Philharmonic to remain open.


Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at