This, if I am not mistaken, is the very National Public Radio story that introduced me to Jubilant Sykes, the classically trained baritone who crossed over to pop long before Renée Fleming released her controversial new Dark Hope. Sykes, who's performed at venues as varied as Carnegie Hall and the Apollo, does it all: John Hiatt, Leonard Bernstein, the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, Beach Boys, Aaron Copeland, and he's rather tight with Andrew Litton, music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from '94 till '06.
Sykes was scheduled to return to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on June 18 as part of the DSO's Community Concert Series for which tickets are kept at a low, low price to accommodate all comers (most are, in fact, free). For Sykes's show with the DSO, tickets cost all of $20, or a fraction of a fraction of what it'll cost to see Neil Young at the Meyerson next Monday (all that remain for that show are $300 orchestra floor seats). And still, despite Sykes's estimable rep and the cheap seats, the DSO is canceling Sykes's planned appearance "due to disappointing ticket sales and funding cutbacks," per a Tuesday-evening press release.
By disappointing ticket sales, DSO publicist Stacie Adams means only 75 tickets were sold, despite the fact it was promoted like any other concert at the Meyerson. I asked Adams what she means by the latter.
She explains: The Community Concerts are partially funded by the city's Office of Cultural Affairs in the hopes of attracting audiences that might not otherwise be able to or interested in attending a show at the Meyerson. (She added Wednesday morning that the Sykes show did not receive OCA funding.) Most of the concerts, like last night's at Kidd Springs and tonight's at Campbell Green and next Wednesday's at the Arboretum, are free, in large part the result of corporate contributions. But some rely on some funding from the city -- money that's been drying up in recent years as the council struggles with massive budget shortfalls.
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"And that is having a significant impact," Adams tells Unfair Park. "It will change the way we schedule our community concerts, and we'll have to go more to sponsorships to fund these concerts. We do so much for the community, and we'll have to look more and more to corporations to fund these free concerts."