DENVER (CBS4) – Dozens of Colorado musicians say they are out thousands of dollars after the abrupt end of a musical nonprofit.
They accuse the founder of the Colorado Masterworks Chorus of failing to pay them.
Sixty-four singers and instrumentalists delivered an acclaimed rendition of Handel’s oratorio “Israel in Egypt” at a Denver church on March 3 and at a Boulder venue on March 4.
Only half of the musicians, however, received pay as expected, according to Vicki Burrichter, who served as the chorus’ artistic director and says she had no knowledge of or dealings with the organization’s finances.
Burrichter said that about 31 instrumentalists without pay were collectively owed $16,500.
“(It is) very common in Colorado for musicians to go on trust,” said Burrichter of the instrumentalists, who were without contracts.
She said that the musicians had put in hours of rehearsal and performance time for the Colorado Masterworks Chorus.
“They show up and they give their heart and soul and all of their talent and skill,” Burrichter said. “And 99 percent of the time they are paid.”
After this month’s concerts, however, Burrichter said that the nonprofit chorus suddenly folded and that the founder failed to pay debts, abruptly cutting off communication.
“(The founder) had put all the money that he wanted to put in to it, and was not going to pay anything further, and (the instrumentalists) did not have contracts, so they were out of luck,” explained Burrichter.
The organization website, Facebook page, and other online platforms had all been taken down.
CBS4’s Melissa Garcia made calls to the nonprofit founder and his wife, but all of their numbers were disconnected. Emails bounced back as “undeliverable.”
“The chorus is devastated.” Burrichter said. “I’m devastated … and the musicians of course are the ones who are the most upset because they have rent to pay and child care and health care.”
An unrelated nonprofit chamber has stepped up to help the cash-strapped musicians through the online fundraiser.