In Thursday’s (11/11) Wall Street Journal, Erica Orden writes, “The American Symphony Orchestra is on the verge of completing a contract that would offer its musicians salaried positions for the first time in its 48-year history, orchestra officials said Wednesday. The proposal would convert the ASO, a regular presence at venues including Carnegie Hall, into a standing orchestra, meaning its 82 tenured musicians would receive salaries equivalent to their current per-service earnings. In exchange, the musicians would commit to 170 hours of service and 20 concerts a year. The agreement would also allow them to continue performing with other orchestras. The negotiations follow the expiration on Sept. 11 of the orchestra’s collective bargaining agreement with the musicians’ union, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians. The musicians’ committee presented the proposal to union representatives and the membership Wednesday evening, according to Lynne Meloccaro, the orchestra’s executive director. … She characterized the move as ‘counterintuitive and almost crazy-sounding,’ given that many freelance orchestras have responded to the weakened economy by requesting concessions or reducing personnel or programming. … Leon Botstein, the orchestra’s music director, predicted the conversion would also offer an artistic advantage. ‘From my point of view, it’s a way of stabilizing a very fine orchestra,’ he said.”

Photo of Leon Botstein leading the American Symphony Orchestra by Richard Termine/New York Times

Posted November 12, 2010