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Fey Confident He Can Save Denver Symphony

September 15, 1989

DENVER (AP) _ Rock impresario Barry Fey has never been to a symphony concert and says he prefers the Beatles over Bach but he’s still confident he can save the Denver Symphony Orchestra.

″Hey, you don’t have to know it to sell it,″ said Fey on Thursday.

Rescuing the financially beleaguered Denver Symphony Orchestra should be ″a walk through the park″ compared to dealing with the super-egos and super-salaries of such acts as the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, he said.

″These guys are treated bigger than God,″ he said of the greats he has brought to Denver since launching his career in 1967 by presenting The Doors.

Fey said he would leave it to the members of the provisionally renamed Colorado Symphony Orchestra to choose conductors and music for a proposed 26- week season starting about Nov. 1, he said.

″If I had my druthers, I’d have the Beatles, the Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin done by the symphony,″ said Fey.

″I’m not a dictator. I’m a messenger. I don’t tell them what they should like. I ask what they want and I get it. ... If it sells, it’s good.″

Fey spoke enthusiastically about Grofe’s ″Grand Canyon Suite,″ and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, while acknowledging that at the age of 50 he has yet to attend a formal symphony concert.

Patrons can wear whatever they wish at his symphony concerts, said Fey, clad in a Chicago Cubs sweatshirt, white shorts, and tennis shoes without socks. ″It’s not what you wear, it’s what you hear.″

Fey filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1986 with debts of nearly $5 million, then bounced back with a new partner and a streamlined Fey Concert Co.

Now he plans to spend $8,000 a week to promote the symphony.

He expresses confidence that he can pull of the gamble. ″I only need 600 people per concert to cover my expenses,″ he said.

Part of his low-overhead plan to save the orchesatra would pay each musician about $22,000 a year - twice the figure offered by the Denver Symphony Association.

The musicians voted earlier this week to hire Fey after they were offered another proposal that would give them a much lower salary.

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