“In an agreement that symphony officials described as ‘groundbreaking,’ the musicians of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra have approved a contract that formally embeds ‘community engagement’—performances at schools, the airport, Boys and Girls Clubs and other nontraditional spaces—into their work schedules, alongside ticketed concert-hall events,” reports John Beifuss in Tuesday’s (11/3) Commercial Appeal (Memphis). “The agreement enables the symphony to expand the musicians’ work time this year by five weeks, in order to increase wages and make up somewhat for the devastating 37 percent pay cuts that orchestra members accepted last year to help the struggling symphony.… Symphony board chairwoman Gayle S. Rose said the agreement recognizes ‘the flexibility and adaptability that a modern symphony needs to have,’ to generate interest among people who aren’t classical music fans.… The contract raises annual salaries from last year’s $18,880 for 24 weeks to $22,813 for 29 weeks, for the 2015-16 fiscal year.… Greg Luscombe, head of the musicians’ negotiating committee and principal trombonist for the orchestra … said the new two-year contract … represented a significant good-faith effort to begin to redress what Rose called the ‘extreme sacrifice’ of the musicians.”

Posted November 3, 2015