Scope and arrangement
The Symphony Space records (1978-2016) document the history, operation, and programming activity of the organization through Administrative Files, Programming Files, and Photographs.
Series I: Administrative Files mainly evidences the day-to-day and season-to-season business of running Symphony Space. It includes marketing files; inter-office memos; booking files; board, committee, and staff meeting minutes; audits and other financial records; notes; contracts; development files; photographs; and the files of Isaiah Sheffer, Allan Miller, and Kay Cattarulla, which contain documentation of the early history of Symphony Space. Also present are legal files pertaining to the real estate litigation which was eventually decided in Symphony Space's favor. The largest components of the series are the development, marketing, real estate, and legal files.
There is overlap between Series I and Series III: Programming Files. Researchers are advised to check both series for files related to programming and administration.
Series II: Photographs holds images of performers and performances; staff; benefit galas; and the Symphony Space property before, during, and after renovations. The largest portions of the series are images of the property, performances, and Selected Shorts events. Photographs can also be found in Series I and III.
Series III: Programming Files, the largest of the three series, documents the creation, production, and promotion of Symphony Space's music, theater, dance, literary, film, education, and interdisciplinary programs, as well as festivals. It contains programs, marketing literature; production information; program proposals; photographs; memos, correspondence with artists and producers; scores; and scripts. The largest components of the series are files on the Wall To Wall events; literary programs (including Selected Shorts); the Curriculum Arts Project; and the Music Under New York (MUNY) program.
The collection also contains audio and moving images which document performances of Selected Shorts, All Write, Wall To Wall events, Bloomsday On Broadway, Thalia Book Club, the World Music Institute, the Thalia Follies cabaret series, and Curriculum Arts Project concerts. Also present are radio interviews with Isaiah Sheffer. Audio and moving images are unavailable pending preservation transfer.
The Symphony Space records are arranged in three series:
The Administrative Files, dating from 1978 to 2015, document the operation of Symphony Space through marketing and development files; papers from the offices of Isaiah Sheffer, Allan Miller, and Kay Cattarulla; legal and real estate files; board, committee, and staff meeting minutes; information on rentals of the venue; audits; clippings; and files on various other topics. The largest components of the series are the development, Kay Cattarulla, real estate, legal, and marketing files.
The development files hold grant applications to and correspondence with the city of New York, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts; files on benefit galas which include programs and photographs; information on corporate sponsorships; and volumes containing logs of annual fundraising activities. The files include Symphony Space's first funding proposal, which outlines the vision Allan Miller and Isaiah Sheffer had for the venue at its founding.
The Kay Cattarulla files contain historical documentation of Symphony Space, including transcripts of interviews with employees and lawyers regarding the history of the organization's real estate litigation, and files of clippings and other sources on the history of the property. They also hold the Allan Miller files, which tell the story of the organization from its 1978 founding through the early 1980s. The Miller files hold correspondence; memos; proposals; legal and real estate papers; and a description of the goals of Symphony Space compiled in 1981 by Miller and Isaiah Sheffer. Other components of the Cattarulla files include early publicity efforts and letters of praise for the Selected Shorts program from writers such as V.S. Pritchett and Daniel Okrent. See also the files for Wall To Wall Bach (1978) in Series III: Programming Files, for historical documentation of the birth of Symphony Space.
The marketing files contain advertisements, press releases, brochures, calendars, postcards, and other promotional literature; correspondence; memos; budgets; proposals; programs; attendance records; audience surveys; publicity schedules; and photographs of performing artists and literary figures, some in performance. These include Frank McCourt, Meryl Streep, Cynthia Nixon, and William Hurt. Programs and marketing literature can also be found throughout Series III: Programming Files.
The Isaiah Sheffer files include Sheffer's writings (lyrics, poems, parodies, and scripts); Symphony Space calendars, posters, programs, and advertisements; photographs of Pinchas Zukerman, Malachy McCourt, Stephen Lang, and Abby Newton; and correspondence, clippings, memos, and notes, many dating from 1978 to 1980.
The real estate and legal files contain correspondence, hearing transcripts, depositions, decisions, and appeals in Symphony Space, Inc. v. Pergola Properties, Inc., the legal battle for the organization to retain ownership of its property. Some of these papers are annotated.
The rental files contain booking brochures; contracts; correspondence with artists and presenters; and promotional material, including posters for some of the jazz concerts produced by Symphony Space in its early years.
The photographs, dating from 1978 to 2011, document the Symphony Space property at various times from 1987 to 2010, as well as performances and events. They include images of a performance of the Bach Brandenburg Concertos in 2011; the musician/arranger Don Byron, who was artist-in-residence in the early 2000s; several benefit galas between 1996 and 2002; performances of Selected Shorts featuring Colum McCann, Cynthia Nixon, Blair Brown, Sue Miller, and Jack Davidson; Malachy McCourt (pictured with Isaiah Sheffer); and a Thalia Book Club event. Also present is a set of photographs from Curriculum Arts Project classes, a 2006 full staff photograph in front of the venue titled "A Great Day On The Upper West Side," and an album of photographs of staff, performances, and the venue dating from 1978 to 1980, titled "The Early Years." The majority of the photographs of the Symphony Space property were taken during the renovation of 2001.
The Programming Files, dating from 1978 to 2016, document both individual events and performance series produced by Symphony Space. The events and series are arranged alphabetically by production name, series name (e.g. Wall To Wall, Face the Music and Dance), or performer. Some programs were grouped under the categories of Family, Literary, Music, and Dance. Interdisciplinary programs, such as Wall To Wall and No Boundaries, have their own listings. The largest components of the series are Wall To Wall, Literary Programs, the Curriculum Arts Project, and Music Under New York (MUNY).
The files contain correspondence, photographs, notes, memos, production information, contracts, performer profiles, audience letters, schedules, budgets, and clippings. Programs, calendars, brochures, and other marketing materials can be found throughout the series, but are also gathered under Programs, Calendars, and Brochures. There is some overlap in content between this series and Series I, but papers associated with a particular event may be found more easily in this series.
The Wall To Wall files are arranged chronologically and include coverage from 1978 to 2007. During the early years of Symphony Space, more than one Wall To Wall was presented per year, but the event became annual starting in 1983. The files for Wall To Wall Bach (1978) include papers regarding the first rental of the Symphony Theater and initial fundraising. The Wall To Wall events with the most content are Bach (1978), Richard Rodgers (1985), Cole Porter (1988), Duke Ellington (1991), Frank Loesser (1999), Richard Rodgers (2002), and Stephen Sondheim (2005). The Sondheim files include orchestral parts for Sondheim's music arranged and orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick and Michael Starobin, arranged by song title.
The files for Wall To Wall Miles Davis (2001) include scores for nonet written for the "Birth of the Cool" recordings, including "Jeru," "Darn That Dream," "Rouge," and "Deception." The Davis files also contain statements from the performers on what most attracted them to Davis's music.
Literary Programs include Selected Shorts and its adult literacy program, All Write; Bloomsday on Broadway; Leaves of Grass: A 12-Hour Walt Whitman Celebration; The New York Literary Festival; Thalia Book Club; and special productions such as Notes From The Underground, Uncle Vanya, and We Remember…9/11. The Literary programs with the most content are Selected Shorts and Bloomsday On Broadway. The Selected Shorts files document the program from its conception in 1984 to 2007, and its subsidiary All Write program from 1992 to 2015. Further documentation of Selected Shorts can be found in the marketing files in Series I.
The Curriculum Arts Project files contain comprehensive coverage from 1982 to 2016. They document the main educational program of Symphony Space through curricula; correspondence with schools, the New York City Board of Education, the musicians union, and funding organizations; programs; meeting minutes; artist reports; teacher guides and evaluations; student evaluations; school contracts; schedules; and letters of support.
Music Under New York (MUNY) was co-operative project with the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to audition musicians and produce performances in the subway system. Symphony Space ran the program from 1987 to 1988 only. The files contain musician lists, audition information, brochures, performance schedules, musician feedback, photographs, posters, publicity materials, reports, and correspondence with the MTA.
Other programs covered in this series include Face The Music And Dance, Bach Mondays, Don Byron's residency (2000-2005), Camera Concerts, Dance programs (including Dance Samplers, Thalia Dance, and Triple Play Dance), Family programs (such as Just Kidding and Film Factory), the New York Autumn Blues Festival, and unique programs such as Rumbas and Love Songs: The Musical Canvas of Wilfredo Lam.