Symphony finds nearly all assets are missing


The Peninsula Symphony of Northern California has discovered that about $500,000 is missing from its endowment and operating funds and has reported it to Los Alto police, a symphony spokesman said Thursday.

A member of the Los Altos-based symphony's board recently looked into the group's account and saw that "money that was supposed to be there was not," symphony spokesman Larry Kamer said. "It represents substantially all of the assets of the organization."

Los Altos police Sgt. Scott McCrossin said that the department is in the early stages of a criminal investigation into the symphony's reported missing funds.

In light of missing money, the symphony's executive director, Steve Carlton, offered his resignation earlier this week and the board accepted it, Kamer said.

The missing funds, totaling about $500,000, include income from donations, ticket sales, investment interest and operating revenue, with the money going to pay orchestra member's salaries, marketing and other expenses, Kamer said.

No one knows how the symphony's funds were depleted, Kamer said. "Exactly where the money was taken is still being investigated," he said.

The board had enlisted the assistance, free of charge, from the law firm Baker & McKenzie, of San Francisco, to help with regaining the funds and is talking to a professional accounting firm about performing a forensic accounting of the group's books, he said.

The symphony is determined to continue its upcoming concert season, which starts later this month, and many of its musicians and donors in the community have pledged to make contributions, Kamer said.

The organization is optimistic it will be able to raise funds equaling the missing amount in the short term, he said.

The musical group's fall series begins on Oct. 25 featuring Irish pianist John O'Conor and the Masterworks Chorale at Capuchino High School in San Bruno, according to its website.

The orchestra has 134 violinists, cellists and other musicians, as well as a conductor, two assistant conductors and a stage manager, according to the website.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by Joel Greene
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I am a member of the Peninsula Symphony and I would like to clarify a few statements in this article that I think are somewhat misleading.

There is a bumper sticker that says: "Real Musicians Have Day Jobs". This applies very well to the musicians of the Peninsula Symphony. The PSO is a community orchestra made up of players who work in a wide range of fields from real estate to high-tech to teaching. Although the quality of our music is very high (even if I do say so myself), the group is almost entirely made up of volunteers. There are a few players who are paid per service for a concert, but it's a great exaggeration to say that the funds we have are used to pay orchestra members' salaries. The vast majority of our players are playing for the pleasure of making music and receive no payment for it.

Along those same lines, I wish to point out that the group has just one assistant conductor in addition to the conductor and stage manager mentioned in the article. The stage manager's position is also voluntary and is handled very capably by one of the musicians. The conductor is a paid position, but the assistant receives only a small stipend.

Much more of the annual budget is used for producing fine concerts at locations like Flint Center and the Fox Theater, presenting top soloists and supporting music education in local schools through the Bridges To Music program.

The response of the board of directors and the musicians to this shocking situation shows how much we believe in continuing the music the PSO has given the whole Peninsula for 65 years. Although we are quite determined to keep the orchestra going in the face of this adversity, we will need help from anyone who can give support. We greatly appreciate any assistance at this time.

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