Students organize fundraiser for Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

CREATED Jan. 14, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - The clock is ticking. The city of Milwaukee could soon lose one of its biggest cultural attractions.  The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is in desperate need of millions of dollars to keep performing.

With the future of the MSO hanging on a string, what will become of the next generation of musicians?
 
"And I just really feel sick every time I think about it. It would really be difficult to continue to teach orchestra at the high school level in a city without that organization out there that kids can attend," said Karen Fink, Shorewood High School orchestra director.
 
So students decided to take matters into their own hands, organizing a fundraiser Saturday night.
 
"And it's something that we really, really care about and enjoy, so to see our community's music go down would just be awful," said Ellen Soyka, Homestead High school senior.
 
"Obviously we won't make a huge dent in that, but hopefully we'll spread the awareness and get the word out there," said Eric Rokni, Homestead High school senior.
 
Rokni takes private lessons from Peter Thomas, a cellist with the MSO.  Thomas gets teary-eyed thinking about all the community support he's seen since the MSO announced it was having financial problems.
 
"We have about 1,000 new contributors to the symphony, new, not just asking the same person again, but new and I think that really speaks monuments," said Thomas.
 
The MSO must raise $5 million.  They've got $2.5 to go.  When's the deadline? Thomas says he doesn't know.
 
"I really just hope for the best. You know, as a musician, what we have to do is think about, if the worst does happen, what do you do?  So you save a little money and open a bank account and try to figure out what the next step is," said Thomas.
 
If you missed the fundraiser and want to help, here's another incentive to do so.  The United Performing Art Fund Challenge is matching dollar for dollar.