Baltimore Symphony Musicians Back to Work After Reaching 1-year Agreement

September 24, 2019, 3:34 PM · "We are back to work!" posted the Baltimore Symphony Musicians on their their Facebook page Monday, following a press conference at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall announcing a one-year agreement between the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's musicians and management.

Baltimore Symphony
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. From their appearance in 2018 at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland.

The agreement resolves a bitter 14-week labor dispute. Musicians had been locked out since June, after the BSO abruptly canceled its summer season. The lockout was lifted Sept. 9, but musicians refused to return to work without a contract, delaying the opening of the 2019-20 season by two weeks. The musicians had been playing without a contract since January.

"The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra held a press conference today to announce that management, musicians and board have ratified a contract for the 2019-2020 season," posted the Baltimore Symphony Musicians on their Facebook page. "While we are glad to have come to an agreement, many challenges lie ahead, as Players' Committee Co-Chair Brian Prechtl mentioned in his remarks. The newly-formed Vision Committee, made up of board members, musicians and others will play a vital role in helping the orchestra find a path forward. It is important that musicians' voices be heard in all discussions affecting the status and artistic level of the BSO."

"I’m thrilled that an agreement has been reached and that we will have our musicians back on stage to open our 104th season beginning on Friday night," said Music Director Marin Alsop at the press conference. "The musicians of our Orchestra are a great treasure to our community and this agreement assures that we will continue creating the highest level of music-making together.”

The dispute centered on management's proposal to shorten the orchestra's season from 52 weeks to 40, cutting out the summer concerts -- which for the musicians would mean no summer income.

The new contract provides for a 38-week concert season plus two summer weeks; plus an additional 10 summer weeks to be paid their weekly scale, through "the generosity of special friends of the BSO." It also raises weekly salaries by 2.4 percent, though because of the two-week work stoppage the base pay will be $81,438 this season for 50 weeks, down from $82,794 for 52 weeks under the old contract.

Find more details about the year-long contract on this page.

For its season-opener this weekend, conductor Marin Alsop will lead the orchestra in Verdi’s "La forza del destino" Overture; Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Daniel Bernard Roumain's Voodoo Violin Concerto.

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Replies

September 24, 2019 at 09:50 PM · A one-year contract sounds like a pretty thin prize here.

September 25, 2019 at 02:42 AM · I grew up going to their concerts. My former teacher is a former BSO member. I know how the market works, but it still makes me sad.

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