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Short of funds, orchestra in N.H. cancels season

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra is canceling the rest of this season and possibly next year because of money trouble.

The orchestra has canceled shows in Manchester and Portsmouth in April, the last two dates on this season's calendar. Low ticket sales and fewer donations are to blame, trustees say.

"Next year's season could also be at risk if we're not able to raise enough money," said Robert Gerseny, chairman of the orchestra's board of trustees.

Only 100 tickets to a February show at the 850-seat Palace Theater were sold before it was canceled. An April show had sold only 75. "I'm not going to say I am surprised," box office manager Laurie Tobine said of the cancellation.

Financial difficulties also forced cancellations in 2004. This time, the symphony's attendance problems began with the season opener. Organizers expected a big turnout for the New England premiere of Billy Joel's concerto "Symphonic Fantasies for Piano and Orchestra."

"That should have brought out tremendous crowds. A packed house," said Lois Fonda, a trustee from Rye. "It's just beyond me why there aren't enough people in New Hampshire who are appreciative of classical music. It's tragic. It really is."

The New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra competes with the Granite State Symphony Orchestra and the Nashua Symphony Orchestra for audience members and support from charities.

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