There is plenty of discussion going on now on social media and blogs about the unfair treatment the musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony are getting in the local paper there, the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
Check out this insightful and entertaining blog post by Emily Hogstad: Pneumonia At The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra! She helps keep the work stoppage in perspective, especially in comparison to other organizational clashes in recent years in Atlanta and Minnesota. Orchestras there are currently thriving, by the way, despite doom and gloom predictions.
Interesting post in Drew McManus' Adaptistration blog post arguing that the Philadelphia Orchestra board and management seek to keep industry competitive salaries and benefits for management, while implying the same isn't necessary for the musicians. He also notes that "The Kaiser report is an expensive dust collector."
Orchestra management succeeded in getting a "bucket" of free overtime from the musicians during previous negotiations and continue to try to get more for less in current negotiations. Here's an interesting article from the Nonprofit Quarterly about recent changes to nonprofit overtime rules by the Labor Department.
Musicians in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra are on strike in an effort to prevent further cuts to the musicians. Read the article in the New York Times for information.
An earlier article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram :Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians reject proposed contract.
Some information regarding current contract negotiations was published today by Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Peter Dobrin. You can read the article here.
As the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra negotiate a new trade agreement, we reflect both on its legendary history, and its present and future importance as cultural ambassador and economic engine for the city, the country, and the world.
Although the Philadelphia Orchestra performed its first concert in 1900, it truly emerged as an international cultural icon in 1912, when Leopold Stokowski became its music director. Under Stokowski, the Orchestra made musical history, with the American Premiere of Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand in 1916, the first electrical recording by a Symphony Orchestra in 1925, the American Premiere of Berg's opera Wozzeck in 1930, and the first long-playing recording in 1931, among other major accomplishments.
It was with the Orchestra's recording of the soundtrack for the Walt Disney movie Fantasia in 1939 that Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra truly became an indelible presence on the national and international arena.
When Stokowski shook hands with Mickey Mouse at the beginning of Fantasia, it was a signal that the Philadelphia Orchestra was an institution dedicated to bringing the best of orchestral music to the largest audience possible, utilizing whatever methods could convey its musical message outside the confines of the concert hall, all the time maintaining its identity as a major symphony orchestra with the highest artistic standards. This important part of its mission was exemplified by Eugene Ormandy, who, during his remarkable 44-year tenure as Music Director, made hundreds of recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra, including The Glorious Sounds of Christmas and Handel's Messiah, both with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and both Gold Recordings, meaning that each sold over 100,000 copies. While the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ormandy brought great symphonic music to the world through recordings such as these, the Orchestra was also recording a vast repertoire, including such American composers as Aaron Copland, Vincent Persichetti, Roy Harris, and George Rochberg. The Philadelphia Orchestra was renowned for Beethoven Symphonies and Strauss Waltzes.
The Orchestra's worldwide reputation was further strengthened by its international touring. The Orchestra played all over the world – Europe, South America, and Japan, for example – but its importance as cultural ambassador for the entire country was confirmed in 1973, when it became the first American orchestra to perform in the People's Republic of China.
Although the Orchestra maintains a special relationship with China, it continues to tour all over the world, earning rave reviews wherever it performs. “Philadelphia Orchestra in Hong Kong – non-stop magic under Nézet-Séguin” exulted the South China Post on May 20, 2016. “Yannick Nézet-Séguin became music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2012, and it’s proving a remarkable partnership if this thrilling concert – the orchestra’s first in London since his appointment – is anything to go by”, wrote The Guardian on June 9, 2015.
As these reviews attest, our current Music Director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is one of the most charismatic and sought-after conductors in the world today. He recently announced a commitment to remain with Philadelphia Orchestra through at least 2025, while simultaneously becoming the newest Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera. Performing with Yannick gives us an opportunity to build on our long tradition of artistic excellence, achieving new heights of performance under his leadership.
It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of the Philadelphia Orchestra to the city, the country, and the world. Former Mayor Michael A. Nutter, at a reception in London prior to the Orchestra's 2015 European Tour, said, “The Philadelphia Orchestra is not just one of the most artistically-acclaimed Orchestras in the world, but it is also a vital Cultural Ambassador for the city, and one that brings tremendous economic development to the city by making the case for doing business in Philadelphia.” The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance highlights on its website the importance of culture as an economic driving force: “The Cultural Alliance leads, strengthens, and gives voice to more than 400 member organizations who generate over $3.3 billion in economic impact for the region.” Surely, the Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the most important cultural institutions in the City.
This chart shows the decline in the Philadelphia Orchestra members' position relative to musicians in other major American Orchestras.
As recently as 2009, the Philadelphia Orchestra base salary was 2% above that of the New York Philharmonic. By last season, Philadelphia Orchestra musicians were earning 12% less.
As a result of wage cuts, wage freezes, and concessions made during the bankrupty of 2011, we have fallen significantly behind other major American orchestras.
The musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra deserve a contract which will restore us to our proper place among the world's great orchestras.
The internationally renowned arts consultant, Michael Kaiser, has issued a report on the Philadelphia Orchestra. Although we have signed a confidentiality agreement regarding his report, Peter Dobrin of the Philadelphia Inquirer has written about its contents.
Holly Blake, Philadelphia Orchestra Contrabassonist and member of the Orchestra Negotiating Committee, discusses Mr. Dobrin's article.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has historically enjoyed its elite reputation among the top five US orchestras. Now, according to a recent June 24, 2016 article by Norman Lebrecht in his Slipped Disc blog titled ‘The New Big Five”, the Philadelphia Orchestra has slid to the 7th slot, as determined by current budget rankings, among their peer orchestras. With their current contract set to expire on September 11, 2016, the musicians are concerned about how this will impact their ability to attract and retain the most talented musicians.
A report by Michael Kaiser on the potential for the Philadelphia Orchestra Association to achieve a financial turnaround has recently been completed. This report by the highly respected arts consultant and author was requested by the Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians in a compromise one year contract settlement, according to a July 4, 2016 philly.com article by music critic Peter Dobrin, “in order to examine why, four years after exiting bankruptcy, the association still had not generated enough earned and contributed revenue to eliminate more of the concessions musicians gave in the Chapter 11 case.” Dobrin’s article references Kaiser's positive and common sense findings which the musicians feel could potentially support their case for greater earned and contributed revenue of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, and ultimately a contract and a ranking more in line with their peer orchestras.
According to Mr Dobrin, Mr. Kaiser’s report includes recommendations of improving “inadequate marketing and education programs that, if grown, would lure more donations and listeners in both the short and long terms.” In addition, Mr. Dobrin writes that the report includes inspiring and diversifying the board, increasing the orchestra’s relevance in the city, cultivating national and international donors and “bringing on donors at differing wealth levels…including people who better represent the city’s industry, demographics, and artistic and intellectual sectors,” as well as organizing special projects which would attract younger patrons. “Donors are motivated by excitement, not crisis,” says Kaiser, according to Dobrin.
Dobrin also includes the following quote from Michael Kaiser. “I am at heart deeply optimistic about the future of this orchestra. It is one of the great performing ensembles in the world. It has an important place in Philadelphia but even also in other countries, and there is a true opportunity for this organization to be not just stable but also thriving. I am hopeful that if some version of this plan is implemented that this is an organization that will be able to perform at the very top of its game for years to come.”
Below are the links to the cited articles by Peter Dobrin “Report: Orchestra must grow audience, donor base, communication skills” and Norman Lebrecht “The New Big Five”
Suggested Reading- Michael M. Kaiser’s “The Art of the Turnaround: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations”
Be sure to save the date -- on October 4, 2016, we will be presenting our second annual Audience Appreciation Concerts -- free music throughout the community!
As we end our season with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, we look forward to the successful conclusion of our contract negotiations, and a wonderful season starting in September. We look forward to seeing you!
Via PHILADELPHIA (WPVI)
There's good news for classical musical lovers in this area.
The Philadelphia Orchestra's season will continue without interruption because the musicians have accepted the outlines of a one-year contract.