High school students organize fundraiser to benefit the MSO

MEQUON (WITI) -- A fundraiser was held on Saturday, January 11th at the Mequon Community Center to benefit the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra -- and it was organized by high school students.

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is in need of $5 million to continue putting on performances, and they are asking the public for help.

“It takes your breath away when you hear a figure like that,” said musician David Taggart.

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will be forced to shut down if they don’t receive the much-needed donations. The two main dilemmas facing the MSO are a $1 million pension issue and an endowment that isn’t large enough to support an orchestra of this size.

Efforts by the organization to thrive are being made, including musicians making concessions, accepting higher health care costs and some retiring early without their positions being replaced.

“This isn’t a labor conflict issue. This is labor and management and board working together to make this happen and to help the orchestra survive,” said Taggart. “It’s an orchestra the community deserves to keep so we hope the people will really step up and do it with us.”

There is no hard deadline however the next couple of months will be crucial.  MSO has received 900 donations or pledged donations totalling $700,00 since the beginning of December. The orchestra is hoping after 54 years they won’t have to make their final curtain call.

Homestead High School students stepped up this weekend -- hosting a fundraiser to benefit the MSO.

"For me to just stand by and do nothing would not be even an option. When I heard the news about their financial situation, it was complete horror because these are my friends, my role models and my teachers," organizer Ellen Soyka said.

Soyka joined Eric Rokni -- both senior musicians to organize the fundraiser.

"We kind of have a connection because we play music, they play music and we just want to help each other out," Rokni said.

On Saturday night was a party with a purpose. From ping pong to raffles, every penny counts and would go directly to the MSO.

"We feel it's our duty to give back to them," Rokni said.

"For people to see us as high school, taking initiative and trying to do something for an organization we care about is a very important message to send," Soyka said.

The event runs until midnight at the Logemann Community Center, located at 6100 West Mequon Road, in Mequon.