The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic Orchestra is a beacon of light in our region because it is so good.

In the late 1960s music lovers on the boards of the Scranton and Wilkes Barre Philharmonic Orchestras dared to dream of an unprecedented merger between our two cities — and made that dream a reality. It is the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic Orchestra. Through the years the orchestra has been a triumph — not only as an enduring collaboration but as an unfaltering symbol of artistic excellence, a source of pride and pleasure, a showcase of who we are as a society.

We need many stars in our galaxy — economic stars, educational stars, political stars, athletic stars and yes, cultural stars — if we are to be communities that matter. It is that array of stars, coexisting interdependently, that comprise a good society. The combination has a kind of ecological authenticity, inspiring pride in the region’s residents and admiration in its visitors.

The NEPA Philharmonic is considered one of the best regional orchestras in the country. Our conductor, Larry Loh, is without doubt a rising star. As did his predecessors at the podium, he takes us “beyond where we have ever been,”  fulfilling yet again the aim of the search committee for our very first conductor, Thomas Michalak. We have stood the test of time.

This is a difficult period for arts organizations, particularly orchestras. Subscriptions are down and corporate, foundation and individual gifts have decreased during the economic downspin. But we are recovering — and the orchestra is part of the recovery. We need centers of excellence in all fields and the orchestra fits that description.

We need the orchestra as much as it needs us. For the sake of the region we cannot afford to lose it. We have launched a campaign, Our Orchestra — Our Future, to insure its financial health.

In addition to raising the much-needed funds, we have asked the presidents of our higher education institutions in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties and the mayors and CEOs of the chambers of commerce in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre for testimonies on behalf of the philharmonic. They all have agreed and have indicated that they were honored to be asked. Why?

These are the people who are working hard to attract people to the area; colleges and universities need good students and fine faculties; the cities need people who enrich themselves and the community through their businesses, professions and jobs and the chambers of commerce need to attract industries whose employees are looking not only for good salaries and working conditions but also for a high quality of life for themselves and their families.

Supporting the philharmonic is an investment in our personal lives and the quality of life in our communities. We need it as a source of pride and enrichment. It needs us in order to maintain its excellence and move forward  into a future that will bring more pleasure and prestige to the area and countless hours of entertainment and enlightenment with beautiful music: classical and pops, orchestral and chamber — and programs that celebrate holidays and special occasions to the delight old and young alike.

An investment in our orchestra is an investment in our future. For more information go to

The Times-Tribune

Publication Date: March 27, 2014

Region must retain cultural asset