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KAI RYSSDAL: The Cleveland Orchestra opens its winter season tonight ... in Miami. It's not just a routine stop on tour. And the orchestra isn't just fleeing Cleveland's wicked weather, either. Even though it is 13 degrees there with the wind chill today. The group's trying to escape the city's frozen economy. Marketplace's Dan Grech reports from Miami.
DAN GRECH: The Cleveland Orchestra borrowed its big idea from Florida snowbirds. It winters in Miami.
[Music: Shostakovich Symphony No. 7]
For three weeks each year, the orchestra performs sold-out concerts, holds master classes and partners with local arts organizations.
It also created a nonprofit to fund raise for the Miami program, something no orchestra has tried before.
Gary Hanson is the Cleveland Orchestra's executive director.
GARY HANSON: This is the first instance of an American symphony orchestra creating an annual subscription program and community service presence in another city.
The Miami residency, in its third year, generates $4 million a year. That's nearly 10 percent of the orchestra's annual budget. This all started in 2003. Miami was building a state-of-the-art concert hall when its resident orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic, folded. Enter Daniel Lewis, a Cleveland native and former insurance executive living in Miami.
DANIEL LEWIS: I called the executive director of the Cleveland Orchestra at the time, and asked him if they moved orchestras like they move baseball franchises. He said, 'You're crazy. But maybe there's an opportunity to do something.
While the Cleveland Orchestra thrives in Miami, other local groups are struggling. The Miami City Ballet is in debt, and the Florida Grand Opera had to shorten its season, so the orchestra is lending a hand. Tonight, it teams up with the ballet on Stravinksy's Symphony in Three Movements. Afterwards, they'll co-host a thousand-dollar-a-plate dinner on the concert hall stage.
In Miami, I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.