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Orchestra cancels '09 European trip

Costs and a lack of sponsorship are among the reasons. A January tour is still on.

Unable to find sponsorship, the Philadelphia Orchestra has canceled its 2009 European festivals tour.

Such a cancellation is highly unusual, and this one is doubly painful. The concerts in Lucerne, Paris, at the London Proms and the Edinburgh Festival starting in August would have brought the orchestra incalculable artistic credibility with audiences and within the classical industry.

And this was to have been Charles Dutoit's first tour with the orchestra in his new role as chief conductor and artistic adviser.

Reasons for canceling the tour are numerous, said an orchestra spokeswoman, but they include lack of sponsorship and the weak dollar. The increased cost of flying was "icing on the cake," she said.

Dutoit's first tour with the orchestra will now be in the spring of 2010, said orchestra president James Undercofler.

"The weeks in late August-early September interrupted the musicians' contractual vacation schedule. As such, we had negotiated fewer summer concerts [such as the 'best of' series]. We can now rethink the early part of summer," he said.

Undercofler said he was disappointed. "But having been in the not-for-profit sector for decades, perhaps I have some understandable perspective. After all, what matters is enabling this great orchestra to play great music greatly!"

A tour slated for this January, in which Christoph Eschenbach will take the orchestra on a trek from the Canary Islands to Vienna, is still on, the spokeswoman said.