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Orchestra woes: From Chicago to Jacksonville

  • October 6, 2012 - 10:35 PM

 

Orchestras across the country are facing or have recently undergone cuts in musician pay and benefits. Here is a look at several, with salary figures shown as average base pay.

Chicago Symphony: $144,040. Two-day strike Sept. 24-25, the first in 21 years, ends with musicians paying twice as much for health care and getting 4.5 percent raises over three years.

Indianapolis Symphony: $78,000. Musicians locked out since Sept. 10. Latest contract offer is $53,000 in the first year (a 32 percent cut), increasing to $70,000 by year five. Orchestra size reduced to 74 members, season to 42 weeks.

Atlanta Symphony: Salaries reduced from $81,460 last season to $73,876 after a two-week lockout ending Sept 24. Musicians also gave up year-round salaries, and their numbers will decrease from 93 to 88.

Detroit Symphony: $80,880. After a six-month strike ending April 2011, musicians took a 23 percent salary cut over three years. Number of musicians decreased from 96 to 81, with four positions to be reinstated over the next few years.

Baltimore Symphony: $65,000. With bankruptcy looming in 2010, pay was frozen, then cut by 27 percent over the next two seasons.

Philadelphia Orchestra: $108,750 (down from $131,000). The first major orchestra in the nation to declare bankruptcy (in spring of 2011), it emerged from bankruptcy protection in July.

Pittsburgh Symphony: $100,110. In 2011, musicians agreed to a 10 percent salary cut from $110,800, frozen until 2013.

St. Louis Symphony: $80,680 for a 43-week season. Following two months of canceled concerts in 2005, the symphony lost several musicians. In June 2012, the orchestra reached a new four-year agreement ahead of schedule, with 1.25 percent salary increases over the next five years.

Jacksonville Symphony: $40,155. Currently playing and talking (no contract in place). Musicians have offered to take 3 percent cut; management is asking for 20 percent, plus a shortened season, from 37 to 33 weeks.

KRISTIN TILLOTSON

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