When the call came to relocate the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, it was music to my ears. Even as the owner of Facilities Relocation Consultants, how often do I get a chance to lead a world-famous orchestra—even if it’s just down the street to new offices?

To say that the orchestra was a special client is an understatement. When I looked a little deeper into my new client, I discovered that the Philadelphia Orchestra is more than a piece of city history; it’s part of the story of the 20th century. Let me share some of the things I learned.

Founded in 1900 by Fritz Scheel, who also acted as its first conductor, the orchestra started with a small group of musicians led by the pianist F. Cresson Schell. Over the following century, the orchestra’s music directors have included such luminaries as Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, Christoph Eschenbach, Charles Dutoit, and now Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The Philadelphia Orchestra actually has many homes. While the orchestra still owns the Academy, its summer home is officially the Mann Center. The orchestra also has summer residencies at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Bravo! Festival in Vail, Colorado. In addition, the orchestra performs an annual concert series at Carnegie Hall.

The orchestra has a tradition of breaking new ground. It was the first to:
• Make electrical recordings
• Star on a commercial radio show
• Appear on a national TV broadcast
• Record all of Beethoven’s symphonies on CD
• Offer a live cybercast on the Internet
• Offer downloads directly from their Web site

It also made diplomatic history as the first American orchestra to:
• Tour the People’s Republic of China
• Perform in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
• Visit and perform in Viet Nam
• Name the first full-time female principal tuba, Carol Jantsch

For its most recent movement, the orchestra turned to FRC. I was thrilled, gratified, and intimidated. We had less than 2 months to get them into new digs. In addition to managing the move, we helped them relocate close to the Kimmel Center. We leveraged the orchestra’s non-profit status to negotiate reduced moving costs. And as the clock ticked down to the final note, we found a way to donate existing furniture (shaving thousands more from the budget), make the move, and clean the old space—all in 2 days!

What did the reviewers think? After seeing how FRC pulled out all the stops, Ryan Fleur, Executive Vice President for Orchestra Advancement, was moved to say, “Thank you so much for all of your help, Judy. I can’t believe you got us out, given our zillions of distractions. Kudos!” (Ryan didn’t know it, but I’ve been practicing for his move for years!)

About the Author

Owner/President Judy Kellem started FRC armed with lessons learned from relocating the ad agency for which she worked. Since then, her clients have all had one thing in common: they saved more than their fee by moving with FRC.